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Georgian Peacekeepers Setting Off To Central African Republic

Georgian peacekeepers are heading to the Central African Republic to join a European Union peacekeeping mission.

Defense Minister Irakli Alasania told RFE/RL that he would personally see the group off on June 5. He did not specify the size of the Georgian contingent.

Alasania said he is "proud to be a defense minister of the armed forces whose courage and heroic spirit is recognized around the globe."

Alasania's statement came on June 4, the same day U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thanked Tbilisi for pledging one battalion to the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan.

Hagel was speaking to journalists after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Georgia currently has 1,565 troops in Afghanistan, the largest number of non-NATO troops within the International Security Assistance Force there.

Twenty-nine Georgian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2004.