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US backs Georgia bid to join NATO, EU
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 1, 2013


The United States on Wednesday endorsed the former Soviet republic of Georgia's democratic reforms and bid to join NATO and the EU, amid a power struggle between its president and prime minister.

US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed this support at a press conference with the visiting Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

"We are very supportive of Georgia's aspirations with respect to NATO and to Europe. And we applaud the democratic transition that has been taking place," said Kerry.

Saakashvili thanked Kerry, who was a senator for 30 years before becoming secretary of state, for being "the first one to come to our rescue" when Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008.

"We want American support for NATO, we want American support for further European integration at this very difficult moment for Georgia's democracy and Georgia's survival," the president added.

He was alluding to his tense standoff with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire who led a coalition that won parliamentary elections in October of last year, ending nine years of domination by the president's party.

The president, whose terms ends in October, and his party accuse the government of undoing his democratic reforms and derailing the ex-Soviet country from a pro-Western path just as it struggles to gain NATO and EU membership.

The prime minister rejects those accusations.

On April 19, President Saakashvili assembled some 10,000 supporters in the Georgian capital to protest against the Ivanishvili government.

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