U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has reaffirmed American support for Georgia's NATO aspirations.
attending a NATO ministerial meeting Thursday in Budapest, also renewed
U.S. condemnation of Russia for its military push into Georgia in
August. He said the Russian incursion has undermined security in the
NATO has promised to grant both Georgia and Ukraine
eventual membership, but declined in April to place either country on
an immediate track to membership.
Meanwhile, Russia's Itar-Tass
news agency quotes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as warning that
Georgia has not renounced the use of military force to reassert control
over the pro-Russian breakaway territories of South Ossetia and
Lavrov, speaking Thursday in Kyrgyzstan, also accused
NATO and the United Nations Security Council of violating protocol by
signing a cooperation agreement without giving Russia a chance to
review the document.
A NATO spokesman rejected those
accusations, telling the Associated Press that Russia was fully briefed
ahead of the deal signed last month.
Moscow in September
recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate states and says
more than 7,000 troops will remain in the regions.
another development, foreign ministers of the Commonwealth of
Independent States agreed to terminate Georgia's membership in the
grouping of 12 former Soviet republics, effective in August 2009.
Georgia announced its withdrawal from the group following Russia's
August military push into Georgia.
Separately Thursday, the U.N. Security Council in New York is discussing the U.N. monitoring mission in Georgia.