U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met on October 18 with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, after arriving in Tbilisi earlier in the day.
The two officials addressed several topics, including bilateral cooperation in defense and security and Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as reported by the PM’s press service.
The Prime Minister emphasized the U.S. role in modernizing Georgia’s defense forces and reassured the Pentagon Chief that Washington “has a loyal ally in the region in the form of Georgia.”
The PM also stressed the importance of restoring peace and trust in the South Caucasus region. In this context, he mentioned the agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan brokered by Georgia and the U.S. in June, and his” Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative,” unveiled at the UN General Assembly.
Secretary Austin, on his part, reiterated U.S. support to Georgia. “Georgia has consistently and steadfastly supported the U.S. in promoting peace and stability in the region,” he said in a tweet. “And I’m glad to have this opportunity to reaffirm our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The U.S. Defense chief also met with Georgian and American troops at a Georgian Special Operations Forces military base as the last stop on his trip to Georgia. Earlier in the day, he met Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze, with the two officials signing a memorandum on a new defense cooperation initiative.
The U.S. Defense Secretary will also visit Romania and Ukraine, both Black Sea region countries as well, ahead of the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in Brussels on October 21-22.