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US Navy frigate arrives in Georgian port: embassy

File image of an earlier Georgian port call by the US McFaul Guided Missile Destroyer is seen behind the Georgian flag after its arrival off shore the port of Batoumi in western Georgia on August 24, 2008.
by Staff Writers
Tbilisi (AFP) Dec 29, 2008
A US frigate arrived Monday in Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti for a two-day visit, the latest in a series of calls by US warships in Georgian waters which have irritated Russia.

"USS Taylor arrived Monday in Poti for a two-day regular port call", US embassy official Nana Kiknadze told AFP.

The vessel, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate, is part of US Navy Destroyer Squadron 24.

Poti citizens welcomed the crew at Poti pier waving US flags. United States and Georgian anthems were performed during the welcoming ceremony attended by Georgian officials, the US embassy said.

The visit is focused on "social and community relations projects where members of the crew will participate in a beautification project of the city", the US embassy said earlier in a statement.

US warships delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia after the Caucasus nation fought a brief war with Russia in August. The USS Taylor's visit to Georgian waters was the sixth such call by a US vessel since the war.

Moscow has criticised the decision to send the sophisticated warships, saying it might contravene international conventions and that the ships were unsuited for aid missions.

Russia sent troops into Georgia on August 8 to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake the Moscow-backed rebel region of South Ossetia.

Russian forces occupied swathes of the country, including Poti, but later withdrew to within South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, which Moscow recognised as independent states.

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