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NATO Praises Tbilisi's Efforts Toward Membership

A top NATO official has praised Georgia's efforts toward eventual membership and said the alliance is looking at the "next steps" to bring the country "even closer" to NATO.

Talking to reporters in Tbilisi on May 1, James Appathurai, the secretary-general's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said NATO is now assessing progress made by aspirant countries in the lead-up to a NATO foreign ministerial meeting in late June and a summit in Wales in September.

According to Appathurai, "Georgia continues to improve" because of its "hard work."

He added that "what Russia says or does will not influence our decision" over NATO's admissions policy.

Appathurai met with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze on May 1.

Georgian officials have made NATO membership a foreign policy priority for several years.

With reporting by