The commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, Mark Hertling, has met with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi for talks on defense cooperation and Georgia's role in Afghanistan.
Hertling thanked Saakashvili for maintaining an 800-troop contingent in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
Hertling also held talks on European security concerns and military cooperation with a range of Georgian defense officials, including Deputy Defense Minister Maia Siprashvili-Lee and Chief of Joint Staff Devi Chankotadze.
Saakashvili has repeatedly expressed hope that Georgia's troop contributions in Afghanistan will bolster his country's bid to join NATO.
Russia, which engaged in a brief war with Georgia in 2008, staunchly opposes any NATO enlargement that would include Georgia or other former Soviet states.