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Top U.S. State Department Officials Heading To Georgia

Wess Mitchell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs

Two top U.S. State Department officials are heading to Georgia as Washington continues trying to bolster ties with Tbilisi amid continuing tensions with Russia.

Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, was slated to meet with senior government officials, other political leaders, and civil society groups.

He was expected to attend the 2018 Tbilisi International Conference, where, the State Department said, he would “reinforce U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, continued democratic development, and aspirations to integrate into Western institutions.”

Andrea Thompson, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, was also slated to speak at the Tbilisi conference at a panel alongside Georgia’s defense minister.

Georgia last month marked the 10th anniversary of a brief, disastrous war with Russia, which ended with Russian forces occupying large swaths of disputed Georgian territory, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

After Tbilisi, Mitchell, who is essentially the top U.S. diplomat overseeing U.S. affairs in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, was scheduled to head to Macedonia, where he will meet with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and other senior officials to discuss U.S. support for the Prespa Agreement. That's the accord between Macedonia and Greece, to be voted on in a September 30 referendum, that changes Macedonia’s name, paving the way for the country to join the European Union and NATO.