NATO diplomats to visit Georgia over Russian objections

Georgia Materials 12 September 2008 16:19 (UTC +04:00)

Diplomats from NATO nations will visit Georgia next week despite Russian objections at the show of support for the country's pro-Western government, the alliance's top civilian said Friday.

The North Atlantic Council, which groups ambassadors from all 26 NATO members, plans a two-day trip starting Monday that includes a stop in Gori, a strategic town shelled by Russian forces during last month's fighting between the two countries, reported dpa.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the diplomats would meet with President Mikheil Saakashvili's government, the opposition and non-governmental groups.

"We'll pay a visit to Gori to show support for Georgia after what we've seen from the Russian side," Scheffer told reporters in Riga during a visit to the Baltic nation of Latvia.

Russia this week urged the council to put off its trip, which NATO officials say has been planned for some time.

"This visit is inappropriate and we ask for it to be postponed," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, as saying.