Georgia's planned military increase in Iraq shows support for U.S.: official

The planned increase of the Georgian peacekeeping contingent in Iraq is "a form of political support for the United States," Nika Rurua, deputy head of the parliamentary committee for defense and security, told journalists in Tbilisi on Friday.

"The decision to increase the Georgian peacekeeping contingent in Iraq was made at the time, when it is especially needed by our strategic partner (the United States)," Rurua was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

According to his information, the increase of the Georgian contingent will be done in several stages.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday that Georgia was going to bring the strength of its military contingent in Iraq to 2,000 men in 2007. The troops will be sent for a limited period of time, for about a year.

Givi Targamadze, head of the parliamentary committee for defense, also said Georgia "confirms in this way its partner relations with the United States." "It is important for us to deepen relations with one of the key members of the North Atlantic Bloc," he said.

"One should hardly expect any problems with the approval of the decision by the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi. I do not expect any serious resistance to it either, because this is the case, when our national interests are fully in line with our commitments before the world community," said David Bakaradze, head of the parliamentary committee for European and Euroatlantic integration.

At present the strength of the Georgian military contingent in Iraq is 850 men. Eighteen were wounded in Iraq during 3 and a half years of Georgia's participation in the military operation in that country.

Saakashvili also said at the press conference in Tokyo that Georgia was going to dispatch 200 to 300 men to Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua



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