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Georgia: U.S. Troops To Stay For Two Years, Won't Go To Pankisi Gorge

Moscow, 16 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An officer in the United States army said today during a television program broadcast in Russia that U.S. troops training Georgian forces will remain in Georgia for about two years but will not go into the Pankisi Gorge. Speaking from Tbilisi in a telephone news conference, Colonel Robert Waltemeyer said U.S. forces expected to arrive in the Caucasus country of Georgia soon should be there for 21 months.

The U.S. is helping train counterterrorism forces in Georgia to root out suspected terrorist formations in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. Members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network are believed to be sheltered there.

Waltemeyer said U.S. troops will be in Georgia only to train and equip Georgian forces.

He said there are no plans for any U.S. personnel to go on operations in the gorge.