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Georgia Launches Drills With NATO Members

Georgian troops are conducting joint military exercises with NATO countries at an airbase near the capital, Tbilisi.

The two-week-long drills, dubbed Agile Spirit 2015, began at the Vaziani base on July 8.

The Defense Ministry said they are part of a "substantive package" of measures aimed at bringing Georgia closer to the military alliance's standards.

It said some 220 U.S. Marines are taking part, while platoon-level contingents from Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, and Bulgaria are also participating.

Georgia has strongly focused on closer integration with the West.

The country's bid to join NATO and the European Union has infuriated neighboring Russia, which opposes the alliance's expansion into former Soviet republics.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP