US, Georgia strengthen defence collaboration ahead of NATO summit

The United States strengthened its defence cooperation with the former Soviet republic of Georgia on Wednesday ahead of a major NATO summit this week.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and US Secretary of State John Kerry signed a defence cooperation memorandum during their meeting, Kerry wrote on Twitter.

The "US firmly supports Georgia's security, prosperity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations," Kerry continued in another tweet.

The US has contributed about 4.3 billion dollars to Georgia and is currently "working very hard on the strategic onus of the partnership, defense," Kerry told Kvirikashvili, according to a State Department transcript.

Kerry is scheduled to travel to another former Soviet republic, Ukraine, on Thursday before joining US President Barack Obama at the NATO summit in Poland on Friday.

Both Ukraine and Georgia have aspirations to join NATO, saying they need to protect their borders from their former Soviet ruler, Moscow.

Russia annexed a part of neighbouring Ukraine two years ago in response to Kiev ousting its pro-Russian president amid mass protests calling for closer ties with the West.

Currently, pro-Russian separatist troops in eastern Ukraine who Western powers believe are heavily backed by Moscow are battling for the independence of two regions there.

In 2008, Georgia lost a brief war with Russia over two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have declared themselves independent nations with strong support from Moscow.

Last update: Wed, 06/07/2016 - 19:30

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