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US Vice President Visits Allies Neighboring Russia


U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has begun a week-long tour of former Soviet republics in a show of support after Russia's invasion of Georgia last month.

Cheney arrived in Azerbaijan Wednesday and will later travel to Georgia and Ukraine.

The trip comes as the United States prepares to announce a $1 billion economic aid package to help Georgia rebuild after Russia's military action.

Georgian troops went into South Ossetia on August 7 to try to retake control of Georgia's breakaway region. Russia sent tanks and thousands of troops into Georgia, saying it had to protect Russian citizens there.

Cheney is also expected to discuss energy issues during the visit.

Azerbaijan and Georgia are critical links in a Western-backed plan for an energy corridor that will bypass Russia.

Currently, almost all Central Asian gas exports pass through Russia to get to consumers in the west.

Ukraine is critical in helping Russia transport natural gas to Western Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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