Washington, 27 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- President George W. Bush says the United States military is providing equipment and tactical advice to help Georgia fight terrorism. Bush told reporters today during a visit to Charlotte, North Carolina, that he believes there is Al-Qaeda influence in Georgia. The republic is adjacent to Chechnya, where the U.S. says Al-Qaeda elements have sought refuge.
Bush said that as long as there is Al-Qaeda influence anywhere, the U.S. will help the host countries rout the terrorists and bring them to justice.
"Obviously, in order for us to work closely with governments that have been invaded by Al-Qaeda cells, they're [foreign governments] going to have to request -- request help. And we've made it very clear that either you're with us or you're against us, and we've made it very clear that we hope that nations step up and do their jobs."
Earlier today, a senior U.S. military official said the Pentagon has transferred 10 combat helicopters to Georgia.
General Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference in Washington that plans for possible U.S. military training of Georgian forces are still being discussed. Pace said the plans would be finalized only after proposals are submitted to both governments.
But Pace, who is America's second highest military official, said 10 combat helicopters have already been sent to Georgia, where seven Defense Department officials -- a military trainer and six civilian contractors -- are advising on their use and maintenance.