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Donors Pledge More than $4 Billion to Georgia Recovery


The United States, the European Union and other donors, meeting in Brussels, have pledged more than $4 billion to help Georgia recover from its military conflict with Russia.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner says the pledges exceed expectations announced earlier this month. The United States pledged $1 billion over three years. The European Union ($644 million), Japan ($200 million) and private donors also made substantial promises.

Officials from nearly 70 countries attended Wednesday's conference, which organizers said aimed to show solidarity with the Georgian people.

Georgian opposition groups, critical of President Mikheil Saakashvili's performance in the runup to the conflict, appealed to conferees to aim the funding directly at displaced refugees and reconstruction rather than allow it to strengthen the Tbilisi government.

The groups also linked a perceived lack of democratic practices in Georgia to heightened Russian-Georgian tensions before the conflict.

Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze attended the conference. However, Russia, which invaded Georgia in August when Georgian forces tried to retake the pro-Russian region of South Ossetia by force, was not invited.

Moscow has since recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states.

Separately, the South Ossetian government Wednesday approved a former Russian official as its prime minister.

The territory's regional parliament endorsed Aslanbek Bulatsev for the post. He previously headed the tax service of Russia's neighboring North Ossetia region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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