Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held State Department meetings in Washington today with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze acknowledging Georgian defense spending efforts, U.S. support for Georgian membership in NATO also known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Russia’s unlawful occupation of Georgian territory.

Pompeo said, “Georgia’s efforts give me great confidence to speak for President Trump, and all of the United States government, when I say that you will continue to have the support of the United States as you seek to become a NATO member. It’s also important that Georgia’s already at 2 percent of its GDP being spent on defense—the NATO threshold that we have pushed all NATO allies to achieve. It knows firsthand from experience why deterrence matters, why strong defense matters, what capabilities are of the highest importance. Georgia has fought to maintain its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and Russia’s unlawful occupation of Georgian territory and its failure to adhere to the cease fire obligations. Russia’s belligerence is just one reason we’re proud of our military support to the Georgia defense readiness program.”

The U.S. secretary of state further explained how the United States encourages Georgia’s transition to a free state after almost 100 years of Soviet communism, to improve its judicial system, to finish the building of a strategic port, to support free and fair elections, and act lawfully to its citizens.||b87552aa4__

He said, “In our conversation today I encouraged Georgia’s ongoing effort to improve its judicial system and to make sure its democracy includes free and fair elections. The prime minister and I also had the chance to discuss Georgia’s parliament’s responsibility to make sure government agencies act lawfully and deliver what they promised to their citizens. Finally, I communicated our hope that Georgia completes the port project. The project and others will have Georgia’s relationship with free economies and prevent Georgia from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence. Those pretended friends do not have Georgia’s best interests at heart. Georgia’s growth as a free nation after nearly a century of Soviet communism proves it’s on the right track. We’re proud to be a good partner for them. We have to keep working together to guard against the risk that these hard won gains will be lost and assure that Georgia has a continued future anchored firmly in the West.”

The Georgian Prime Minister acknowledged 10 years of a US-Georgian strategic partnership, the on-going Russian occupation of his country, and the comprehensive cooperation created with the United States for strengthening institutions, developing democracy, and increasing military cooperation especially under the Trump administration.

Prime Minister Bakhtadze said, “It is good to be back in Washington, especially to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the U.S.-Georgia’s strategic partnership. In 2008, Russia invaded and subsequently has occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. Since that crisis, Georgia and the U.S. created a platform for rebuilding Georgia, strengthening institutions, developing democracy and the rule of law and increasing military cooperation and people to people contacts between our nations. Georgia’s many accomplishments are a direct result of the success of. U.S. Georgia’s strategic partnership. Which we celebrate today, some 10 years after it was launched. Over was the last decade we have developed dynamic comprehensive cooperation with the United States and our ties have grown to all time high under President Trump’s administration.”

Finally, the Georgian prime minister expressed gratitude for U.S. support for it’s planned NATO membership and overall military readiness and defense and called on Russia to fulfill its obligation to honor a 2008 cease-fire agreement.

He said, “We are grateful for the support of the United States on Georgia’s NATO integration path. Our defense cooperation helps Georgia to modernize its armed forces and build deterrence capabilities. We deeply appreciate the U.S. commitment to the Georgia defense readiness program and other US-Georgia bilateral activities which are essential for strengthening Georgia’s territorial defense and resilience capabilities. We highly value the United States unwavering support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. In response to continuous occupation and the great humanitarian and security situation in the Russian occupied regions we made, we remain committed to peaceful conflict resolution. Within a comprehensive peace policy and with a strong support of the US, Georgia implements peace initiatives such as a step to a better future a program that promotes reconciliation and engagement with Georgian citizens residing in occupied regions. Georgia unilaterally has reaffirmed the non use of force commitment. We call on Russia to reciprocate and fulfill its obligation under the August 2008 cease fire agreement.”

Includes reporting from Associated Press.