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Georgia Presses Case For NATO Membership


http://gdb.rferl.org/0C9810E1-A0BD-49EB-BA75-E805B28F29EB_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/0C9810E1-A0BD-49EB-BA75-E805B28F29EB_mw800_mh600.jpg Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) 18 February 2006 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told a conference on security issues in Tbilisi today that Georgia was at the crossroads of the global fight against terrorism. He was making the case for Georgian membership in NATO.


NATO officials have made clear that Georgia cannot realistically expect to be considered for membership until at least 2009, even if it were to meet the criteria demanded by NATO.


Georgia has an army of 21,000, which it is seeking to equip and train to NATO standards. U.S. military personnel have been training Georgian soldiers for several years and Georgia has 850 troops in Iraq and a further 150 in Kosovo, where they form part of the peacekeeping operation.


Saakashvili said that Georgia was not just a consumer of security but a "very important component in the global security system."


(dpa)

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