Rice assures Georgia of US support in rift with Russia

(dpa) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured her Georgian counterpart of US support in the dispute over Russia's plans to strengthen ties with the former Soviet state's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"The United States is firmly committed to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia," Rice said just before meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Bakradze.
Washington was "very concerned" by Russian President Vladimir Putin's move on April 16 to cement ties with the separatist regions, Rice said, and has called on the Kremlin to repeal the order.
Georgia has accused Moscow of violating its territorial integrity and of seeking to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two regions with Russian populations that have been autonomous since civil wars ended in the early 1990s.
Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi further escalated after a Georgian drone aircraft was shot down over Abkhazia on Sunday. Georgia blamed Russia for the shootdown. Moscow accused Georgia of violating a ceasefire with the flight and said separatist rebels downed the aircraft.
Bakradze said Georgia was "very grateful for such a clear and unconditional support" from the United States and that it would help the country overcome the "potentially very dangerous and provocative" Russian policies.
Russia has maintained peacekeeping troops in the regions since 1993 and the separatists have looked to Moscow for support. Putin's decision to broaden relations with the regions has raised the eyebrows of the United States, the European Union and NATO.
Rice said she discussed her concerns with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week at an Iraq conference in Kuwait and last week over the telephone.
"There should be no question as to Georgia's integrity and Georgia's full incorporation into the international community" and eventual membership in NATO, Rice said.
Russian peacekeeping troops have been in the breakaway regions since 1993, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia have long looked to Moscow for support in their bid for independence. Residents have been issued Russian passports in recent years.
Russia officially respects Georgia's territorial integrity but has warned that Kosovo's independence from Serbia in February could serve as a precedent and has stepped up ties, and has lifted trade restrictions against both regions.
The United States and most EU nations quickly recognized Kosovo after the tiny state declared independence. Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, rejected the move while declaring it could set a precedent for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia did not recognize Kosovo.
Russia has also been irked by NATO plans to eventually invite Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance.
President George W Bush has backed the move at the NATO summit Bucharest earlier this month. The alliance rejected Bush's appeal for an immediate invitation but issued a statement saying that Georgia and Ukraine will be permitted to apply in the future.

Nepal PM Oli receives first jab of Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine
Nepal PM Oli receives first jab of Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine
China's focus on annual GDP targets gives greater policy flexibility
China's focus on annual GDP targets gives greater policy flexibility
Japan government spokesman says timing of Biden-Suga meeting undecided
Japan government spokesman says timing of Biden-Suga meeting undecided
Loading Bars
Growth rate of agricultural production in Turkmenistan increases
Uzbekneftegaz reveals volume of oil products manufactured in 2M2021
Azerbaijan's First VP congratulates Azerbaijani women on International Women's Day
JP Morgan reveals 2021 oil demand & supply forecasts
Boom in Iran's housing sector create new jobs for local force
JP Morgan says OPEC to boost supply in 2021
OPEC crude output to exceed 30 mbpd in 2022 – JP Morgan
Uzbekistan, India talk mutual phytosanitary permits for agricultural products
Turkmenistan exceeds plan for transport, communication sector
Weekly review of Azerbaijani oil market
Nepal PM Oli receives first jab of Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine
Iran's economic development declines
IAM Construction LLC to reconstruct facility in Azerbaijan’s Seaside Park
Azerbaijan’s state interests on Azerbaijani-Armenian border protected at highest level
China's focus on annual GDP targets gives greater policy flexibility
Iran's CBI reveals amount of loans issued in Iran's trade sector
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange on the rise
Iran kicks off development of Ramin oil field in Khuzestan Province
Iran reveals amount of loans issued in housing and construction sector
Iranian currency rates for March 8
Iranian banks issue big loans to agricultural sector
Iran boosts development of Zilayi oil field
Iran boosts exports via Zanjan Province
Iran's exports to Azerbaijan not on high enough level - Ali Jahangiri
State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan enters top five most transparent sovereign wealth funds
Large-amount loans issued in Iran's services sector
Excavations at Iran's South Pars gas field continue
Significant work done on water and electricity sectors in Iran – minister
Azerbaijan’s Buta Airways low-cost airline to resume flights from Baku to Ukraine’s Kyiv
Iran implements plan to maintain, increase extraction from several oil fields
Turkmenistan sees increase in trade turnover volumes
Japan government spokesman says timing of Biden-Suga meeting undecided
Exports to Iraq via Mehran crossing top $460m
Kazakhstan’s daily COVID-19 case count stands at 653
Weekly review of Azerbaijani ICT sector highlights
GE nears deal to combine aircraft-leasing unit with AerCap
Reopening schools a "national effort" to beat coronavirus - UK PM
Iran to construct new seaport making it largest in country
France ramps up weekend COVID-19 vaccinations after slow start
U.S. administers 90.35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Swiss agree to outlaw facial coverings in 'burqa ban' vote
UK reports 82 new COVID-19 deaths
White House cites 'active threat,' urges action despite Microsoft patch
Iran's South Pars Gas Company declares gas production volumes
President Ilham Aliyev makes Facebook post on International Women's Day
4 terrorists killed in security forces operations in NW Pakistan
Turkey registers more than 11 180 new coronavirus cases
Iran’s CBI unveils amount of loans issued by banks
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry to auction off interest-bearing bonds
Iran to launch several facilities under city municipalities
Azerbaijan together with McKinsey improving railway sector
Turkmenistan's State Development Bank opens tender for IFRS 9 standard implementation
FIA updates schedule of Formula 1 weekends
Amount of loans issued in Iran's industrial and mining sectors announced
Israel's forex reserves hit record 185.09 bln USD
Review of main events of Azerbaijani financial market for first week of March
Turkey goes zero waste in agriculture
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 8
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
Uzbekistan takes additional measures to support livestock industries
Iran’s CBI shares report on open market operations
Geostat reveals volume of meat production in Georgia
Reopening schools a "national effort" to beat coronavirus: UK PM
Jordan's PM reshuffles cabinet to accelerate reforms
Turkmenistan's oil refining volumes exceed plan
Kazakhstan increases imports from Hungary in 2020
Iran's interbank interest rate decrease
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Indonesia reports 5,826 new COVID-19 cases, 112 more deaths
7 killed, 3 missing in floods in northern Algeria
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 7
Azerbaijan shows footage from Aghdam's Suma village (VIDEO)
COVID cases up in Turkey’s 3 biggest cities as east enjoys calm
Turkmenistan reveals indicators of construction, industrial sector
Iran launches new projects in Hormozgan Province
Azerbaijan's Mortgage & Credit Guarantee Fund signs tender contract
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus cases grow by 10,595 in past day to 4,322,776
Azerbaijan confirms 127 more COVID-19 recoveries
Bitcoin rises 4.2% to $50,947.94
Georgia reports 234 coronavirus cases, 349 recoveries, 9 deaths
Uzbekneftegaz stabilizes pressure at gas pipelines of Mubarek oil & gas dep’t
Prices on Azerbaijani oil continue to rise
Khazar Consortium opens tender for purchase of steam field unit
Iran to manufacture new wagons and locomotives
Saudi-led coalition destroys 10 Houthi drones
Document on providing all countries with vaccine against COVID-19 adopted under Azerbaijan’s chairmanship in NAM
8 police, 5 militants killed during clashes in N. Afghanistan
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 7
Azerbaijan shows footage from Fuzuli's Garakollu village (VIDEO)
Weekly review of major developments in Azerbaijan's transport sector
S. Korea reports 416 more COVID-19 cases, 92,471 in total
Health Minister: Only WHO approved vaccine to be imported
Turkey records dropping revenues from cement export to Georgia
Iran's customs releases more imported commodities
Turkmenistan shares data on GDP growth rate
New hazelnut processing plant to open in Azerbaijan’s Zagatala
New Zealand's Auckland emerges from lockdown, Australia starts AstraZeneca vaccinations
China exports jump 60.6% y/y in January-February, imports up 22.2%
Brazil registers 1,555 deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours
All news