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Georgian PM: Trump Offers 'Full Support' In Standoff With Russia Over Breakaway Regions

  • RFE/RL

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili (left) meets U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on May 8.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili's office said that U.S. President Donald Trump expressed Washington's "full support of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity" during a May 8 meeting at the White House.

Tbilisi continues to be locked in a standoff with Russia over Georgia's Moscow-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Kvirikashvili's White House meeting came days after Trump signed a massive federal spending bill that included a statute forbidding any of the funds from being "made available to support the Russian occupation" of the territories.

"President Trump emphasized that Georgia is an important ally and a strategic partner of the USA. The leaders discussed significant issues and future plans for the U.S.-Georgia relations," Kvirikashvili’s office said in a statement that included photos and a video of the two leaders together in the Oval Office.

The White House did not provide an immediate account of the meeting.

But it said that Vice President Mike Pence also met with Kvirikashvili and "reiterated the administration's steadfast commitment to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders."

Pence also "praised the prime minister's leadership on political and economic reforms and reaffirmed U.S. support for Georgia's decision to pursue integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO," the statement added.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states after a brief war against Georgia in 2008, though only a handful of countries have followed suit.

Moscow maintains thousands of troops in the regions, deployments that NATO and Western governments say violate the EU-brokered deal that ended the eight-day war.

Georgia's NATO ambitions have angered Russia, which has chafed at the military alliance's eastward expansion since the fall of the Soviet Union. NATO insists that it presents no threat to Russia.

Trump's calls for closer ties with Moscow and his questioning of NATO's relevance during his campaign last year raised concerns in Eastern Europe.

So far, however, Trump's administration has stood firm on regional policies he inherited from his predecessor, Barack Obama, including sanctions targeting Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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