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U.S., Georgia Sign Deal To Boost Intelligence Sharing

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

The United States says it has signed a "milestone" security agreement with Georgia that will boost intelligence sharing and counterterrorism efforts with the former Soviet republic.

The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili signed the agreement before their meeting in Washington on May 9.

"The agreement represents a major milestone in security cooperation between the United States and Georgia," the State Department said in a statement.

Georgia remains locked in a standoff with Russia over the Moscow-backed breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

U.S. President Donald Trump's calls for closer ties with Russia and earlier suggestions that NATO is obsolete rattled many in Eastern Europe given Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory and backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine and Georgia.

But the Trump administration has sternly criticized Russia's interference in Ukraine, and it reiterated Washington's support for Georgia's territorial integrity during Kvirikashvili’s visit to Washington this week, which included a meeting with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Kvirikashvili said in a statement that he and Tillerson "discussed in detail important prospects of deeper economic, defense, and security relations, as well as assurances of U.S. support for Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration."

Georgia's NATO ambitions have angered Russia, which sees the military alliance's eastward expansion as a threat -- a view NATO calls baseless.

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