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Georgia: Shevardnadze Proposes Antiterrorism Summit

Washington, 8 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has proposed a summit aimed at dealing with international terrorism.

Speaking at the White House on 5 October, Shevardnadze said he welcomes the creation of an international coalition to fight terrorism. He told reporters that he believes a summit of world leaders would be appropriate, as would the involvement of the UN Security Council.

"I believe that there should be some sort of a summit meeting where everyone will be present."

Asked whether he thinks a U.S. military response would be massive to punish those responsible for the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington, the Georgian leader said:

"I don't really think so, I don't think that the United States is going to have a massive strike. This is my personal view."

At the White House meeting, Bush won support from Shevardnadze as military and diplomatic pressure built on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Shevardnadze, who as Soviet foreign minister ultimately urged the withdrawal of his own country's troops from the war in Afghanistan, said he and Bush were in "absolute mutual understanding." He offered his "full cooperation and full solidarity."

Georgia had already agreed to allow the United States to use the Black Sea state's airspace if necessary in any operations against targets in Afghanistan.

Shevardnadze also met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher had this assessment of the meeting:

"It's a very important visit. Obviously we have very close relationships with Georgia. The secretary met with President Shevardnadze at Blair House. They had a very good discussion. They discussed the situation in the region. They talked about the situation that Georgia faces at home, including problems that Georgia has had with terrorism with Abkhazia and elsewhere. And they discussed in fact President Shevardnadze's desire to reach a political settlement of political issues there."

Boucher said that the conversation also focused on Chechnya and the need for political settlement in the breakaway republic and efforts to control any activities of terrorists in the region.