ArmInfo. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called on Russia to implement the 2008 ceasefire agreement.
The Pentagon Chief said this in Tbilisi, answering a question about Georgia's possible participation in the "3 + 3" initiative in the South Caucasus. Before talking about any new platform, Russia must fulfill the 2008 ceasefire agreement, "Austin said, accusing Russia of "occupation." Speaking about the memorandum signed today with the head of the Georgian defense department, Austin said that the document "once again testifies to the deepened cooperation between the two countries in the defense and other sectors." When asked about the purpose of his visit to Tbilisi, the Pentagon chief said that he wanted to emphasize "good partnerships between countries."
According to him, the United States highly values Georgia as a strong strategic partner. At the same time, the U.S. Secretary of Defense spoke about the new Defense and Containment of Georgia Initiative. "Today I have the honor to announce Georgia Defense and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative together with the Georgian Defense Minister. This initiative will become central to cooperation between the US Department of Defense, on the one hand, and the Georgian Ministry of Defense and the Georgian Defense Forces, on the other. This marks a truly new an exciting phase in bilateral security cooperation between our countries. We will definitely take advantage of Georgia's defense program and continue to support institutional reforms in the defense sector. We will strengthen the capabilities and skills needed for effective deterrence and defense. We will also support Georgia's ability to engage with NATO", said Lloyd Austin, Georgia-online reports.
Earlier, at a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir -Abdollahiyan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the parties discussed the possibility of creating a "3 + 3" format. As the Russian minister noted, the Iranian side expressed a positive attitude towards this idea, the same attitude is observed in Azerbaijan and Turkey. The Russian Federation is working with colleagues from Armenia, and also hopes that Georgia will be able to see its fundamental interest in creating such a mechanism.
In turn, Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, commenting on Lavrov's statement, noted that it would be difficult for Tbilisi to participate in the "3 + 3" format together with Russia, nevertheless, the country should be represented in some form in large geopolitical projects.