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Georgian Premier Meets With Senior U.S. Officials

Zurab Noghaideli (file photo) (AFP) 27 October 2005 -- Georgia's Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli has been holding talks with senior U.S. officials in Washington.

Noghaideli is reported by Caucasus Press to have told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a meeting yesterday that Georgia expects to be ready in 2008 to start the process of entering NATO.

They reportedly also discussed Georgian initiatives to end the conflict in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Rumsfeld thanked Georgia for the participation of Georgian troops with U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

Noghaideli is also reported to have met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In an address yesterday to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Noghaideli said democracy was flourishing in Georgia. He cited improvements in the electricity sector, fairness of access to education, and judicial reforms. He also acknowledged continuing battles against corruption and for reforms of the customs system.

(AP/ITAR-TASS/Caucasus Press)