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(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay


noon local time (8 a.m. GMT)

We're all awaiting the American navy ship's arrival.

The "USS Mount Whitney" is already in Georgian territorial waters, we hear. It's a very large ship -- 190 meters -- so it can't actually dock but will anchor outside Poti's harbor.

The mayor, Vano Saghinadze, met with the US AID program coordinator, John Miller, to discuss details of the preparations for the arrival of the aid. There's a lot of anticipation here in town. It's running on two tracks, basically. A lot of people are going down to the port on their own to see the big event; others are among groups organized by employers -- from the public and commercial sectors -- to go down there to greet the shipment. It's scheduled for 5 p.m.

The only ones who don't appear to be making preparations are the Russian soldiers. They look unaffected by the news -- digging trenches and excavating more earth. But I'll be watching them carefully as the arrival time approaches.

As was the case a week or so ago -- when there were reports of a U.S. aid shipment bound for Poti -- there is a little nervousness among people about whether or not this action could be regarded by the Russians as a provocation. But people who are familiar with the situation are telling me that -- even if this ship is much bigger than those two in last week's reports -- the Russians aren't signaling any objections. Unlike a week ago.

In fact, Russian news agencies are reporting that there will be no Russian military response to the increased number of NATO warships in the Black Sea.

But despite any nervousness, I expect there will be a lot of people out at the port today to welcome the "USS Mount Whitney."
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