George Bush supports Georgian President’s intention to join NATO membership

As we know, President Bush ensured Georgia's president Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday that he would make efforts at the NATO summit next month to put Georgia on track for membership in the alliance.

{mosimage}Bush requested a peaceful resolution of differences with the republic's two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Though Bush has a strong intention to bring Georgia to NATO, he may not be able to offer Saakashvili more than encouragement at the summit next month in Bucharest, Romania.

Georgia will need to win support of 26 countries in order to join a program that would prepare it for eventual membership.

"I believe that NATO benefits with a Georgia membership, I believe Georgia benefits from being a part of NATO," Bush said at a joint appearance with Saakashvili.

Russia has demonstrated its anger towards membership for Georgia and Ukraine in NATO. The leaders of both former Soviet republics have annoyed Moscow by turning toward the West.

{mosimage}"I have to thank you, Mr. President, for your unwavered support for our freedom, for our democracy, for our territorial sovereignty and for protecting Georgia's borders and for Georgia's NATO aspirations," Saakashvili told Bush.

The United States sees Georgia not just as an important territory from the point of view of geopolitics, but a country that strives to build democratic society

The small nation lies on a key export route for Caspian Sea oil exports to the West, contributing to its role in a struggle for regional sway between Russia and the United States.

{mosimage}Saakashvili was first elected in 2004. The 40-year-old U.S.-educated lawyer has helped transform Georgia into a country with a growing economy and aspirations of joining the European Union as well as NATO.

He has been a dependable partner of the United States. On Wednesday, Bush thanked him for the contingent of 2,000 troops currently serving in Iraq.

"The citizens of Georgia must know that the troops that have been provided there are brave, courageous professionals, and have made a significant difference," Bush said.

"We talked about the need for there to be peaceful resolutions of conflicts, while recognizing the territorial integrity and sovereign borders of Georgia," Bush said.

Friction over the two regions has flared recently because Russia has warned that Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia last month, and the West's recognition of it, could fuel other separatist movements, including those in Georgia.

But on Tuesday, Russia took a step toward easing tensions with Georgia by agreeing to restore air travel between the two countries more than 17 months after imposing a sweeping transport blockade.


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