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Pompeo, Bakhtadze To Discuss U.S.-Georgia Ties In Washington

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze speaks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on June 7.
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze speaks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on June 7.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze in Washington on June 11 to discuss "a range of bilateral issues."

In making the announcement on June 10, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the United States "does not recognize" the legitimacy of the elections for the legislative body in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, and it "will not acknowledge their outcome."

"Our position in South Ossetia remains clear. These regions are integral parts of Georgia," Ortagus said, reiterating Washington's "strong support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders."

Nearly 100 candidates competed on June 9 for 34 seats in South Ossetia's so-called national parliament in a vote that was denounced by Tbilisi as a gross violation of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The EU said it would not recognize the "constitutional and legislative frameworks" in which the elections were being held.

Moscow has stationed thousands of troops in South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, since it recognized their independence following Russia's brief war with Georgia in August 2008.

In an interview on June 10, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili predicted that Tbilisi will regain control over the two regions, saying: "Gradually, I think, the population in the occupied territories, are understanding that the perspective is not in the north," that is, with Russia.

Zurabishvili, who took office as president in December 2018, told the AP news agency in Geneva that Western countries should do more to face up to the "very heavy pressure" she said Russia exerted on her country as it pursues a "natural road" toward Euro-Atlantic integration.

"I don't have the plan of action that brings us there," Zurabishvili said. "But I think that it's very clear that our road to NATO will end successfully -- and to European Union -- in different manners, but in parallel ways."

Tbilisi's allies in the West "should talk more about Georgia when they have direct meetings," the Georgian president said. "It should be on the agenda of every meeting with Russia."

Zurabishvili was in Geneva to mark the 100th anniversary of the International Labor Organization.

With reporting by AP
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