Bush invites Saakashvili to White House as Georgia has its voice heard at G8

Georgia Materials 21 June 2006 11:57 (UTC +04:00)

(The messenger) - U.S. President George W. Bush has invited Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, to Washington on July 5, 2006, according to an official statement released by the White House.

The statement hails Georgia's Rose Revolution as a "powerful moment in modern history that has inspired others to seek freedom".

"Georgia is a key ally in an important region, and a valued partner in the war on terror, making important contributions in Iraq. President Bush and President Saakashvili will discuss developments in consolidating Georgia's democratic transition since the President's May 9-10, 2005 visit to Georgia. The presidents will also discuss efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the separatist conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia within a unified Georgia, cooperation in Energy Security and Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations and our common commitment to working together to advance freedom and security around the world." The statement explains, reports Trend.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza stated on Rustavi-2 that the meeting of Mikheil Saakashvili and George Bush is very important for the United States.

"Our President will talk about the democratic reforms which have been taking place in Georgia and the second issue for consideration will be energy security. Europe should diversify energy resources in the region, and Georgia's role should be defined in this process," Bryza stated.

Bush and Saakashvili first met just a month after Saakashvili's inauguration as president, and this was followed by the famous Bush visit to Georgia of May last year, the first visit of a US president to the country. Bryza says the presidents are "friends" and that this will be a "friendly visit".

Bryza and U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft visited Abkhazia on June 19 and held talks with leader of the de facto Abkhaz Republic Sergei Bagapsh and de facto Foreign Minister, Sergei Shamba. Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress reports that Bryza said after talks that the U.S. diplomats heard some constructive proposals.

"Both Tbilisi's and Sokhumi's proposals give us reason to think that a common language can be found between the sides and that there is willingness to make a progress in the conflict resolution process both in Tbilisi and Sokhumi," Bryza said.

According to Georgian political scientist Gubaz Sanikidze "The U.S. wants to see Georgia a prospering country," as it has committed itself politically to what Bush famously described as a "beacon of democracy" during his visit of May last year. This commitment to Georgia can be seen through the Millennium Challenge Corporation multi-million dollar aid package, the US backing of the Black Sea Trust (a regional democracy promoting fund) and the recent announcement that the US planned to invest USD 2 million for confidence building measures in South Ossetia.

This visit comes in the wake of the June 13 Putin/Saakashvili meeting, and will take place just after the St. Petersburg G8 summit. Speaking on Imedi TV' Droeba program on June 18 Saakashvili assured the audience that "the Georgia issue" will be on the agenda at the G8, and that "our voice will be well represented". Bush stated on the June 19 that there is a "duty" to help "brave people striving to consolidate democratic gains". In light of this, it seems Georgia's voice may well be heard in St. Petersburg after all.