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Rice Arrives in Tbilisi

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Tbilisi on Wednesday evening.

An official meeting between President Saakashvili and the secretary of state is scheduled for early July 10. The two officials, however, met shortly after Rice’s arrival. They had dinner in a Tbilisi restaurant overlooking the old part of the capital city.

Secretary Rice also plans a meeting with opposition leaders on July 10, according to the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi.

Rice told journalists on July 8 that Georgia was a “very good ally” of the United States.

“I know that there have been a lot of incidents that have called into question people’s commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity. And I want to make very clear that the United States’ commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity is strong,” she said.

“We have said that both Georgia and Russia need to avoid provocative behavior. But frankly, some of the things that the Russians did over the last couple of months added to tensions in the region.”

She also said that the April 16 Russian presidential decree on establishing official links with breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia was of particular concern, as well as the deployment of Russian Railway Forces to Abkhazia.

“I think that while the Russian explanation of the deployment of railway troops, unarmed railway troops, was, in some sense, a logical explanation, it certainly would have been better had it been done with the consultation with the Georgians,” the secretary of state said.

She also reiterated U.S. support for granting Georgia NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) .

“I think the NATO MAP would be a very good status from which Georgians could move to resolve their frozen conflicts,” she said. “Now, the American position on MAP stands and we were pretty clear in Bucharest that we thought that MAP, which is not membership, would be a very good status for both Georgia and Ukraine. And we’ll continue to pursue that.”


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