Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was busy today, meeting multiple delegations at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
Meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, she assured him of the United States’ ongoing and strong continued support for Georgia, both in terms of their territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Secretary Clinton said “We are working to try to ensure that Russia abides by the 2008 ceasefire, and hopefully to eventually reintegrate your country as it should be.”
Russia previously agreed to reduce their troops, pulling back to the positions they were in before the ceasefire, but they are yet to implement that pullback.
Referring pointedly to Russia, the Secretary said, “We also know that working toward democracy and the changes that you’re attempting to achieve are challenging, but we want to support and encourage the steps that need to be taken. And the United States supports Georgia, and we want to make that very clear and unequivocal statement here today.”
Responding, President Saakashvili said he was impressed by Secretary Clinton’s Financial Times of London Op-Ed, in which she set out the changed U.S. missile defense system proposed for Europe.
The new missile defence system is planned to be deployed sooner than the previous programme, allowing it to “swiftly counter the threat posed by Iran’s short and medium-range ballistic missiles.” [ FT ]
In addition, the Op-Ed said the new missile defence would be more comprehensive than the previous programme, with more interceptors in more places, and a better capacity to protect all US friends and allies in the region. The aim is to deploy proven technology, shortening deployment time, reducing costs, and allowing the flexibility to adjust to threats as they evolve.
The Secretary said “we think this approach is much more effective, and it will certainly cover Georgia and the Caucasus and it will send a clear message that the United States is committed to the defense of all of Europe in the years going forward.”
The Secretary made clear that the United States does not and will not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and in addition, would continue to work with the international community so others will not recognize them either. Currently, only Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
She also welcomed Georgia’s progress in strengthening its democracy, and encouraged President Saakashvili to continue in that direction, including freeing up the judiciary, media, electoral reform, and other areas.