Remarks With Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili Preceding Bilateral Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 1, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a pleasure to welcome the president here to the State Department. He’s had a number of excellent meetings and consultations here in Washington, starting with the very comprehensive meeting he had with President Obama in the Oval Office. Georgia is a valued partner. They are actively participating in Afghanistan, where Georgian soldiers are showing great courage and professionalism. We are pursuing a system of consultations to determine the way forward on further trade and investment. There’s a lot of work going on in our bilateral consultations on education, on health, on good governance, on rule of law, on defense and security cooperation. So, the president’s had a very busy week here and there are more people for him to see. There’s a great deal of interest in Georgia in our capital. And again, welcome, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI: Thank you, Madam Secretary. First of all, I would like to express utmost gratitude for your strong support, not just in words but in action, for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and independence, because it’s lots of daily work. It’s a great struggle. Sometimes it’s like uphill struggle because it’s against the forces that are trying to undermine us. And your personal participation, President Obama’s personal backing for it was – it goes without saying, and that’s something that we really appreciate a lot.

And certainly, I walked out also from this office, but also from the Oval Office where we were also present, totally elated because I heard everything I wanted to hear. And I mean, it’s – I’ve been in there before. But this time, because the country has also matured – my country has also matured up to the challenges – I think we now are moving to another level in cooperation. And with free trade agreement, nobody could have imagined that Georgia would ever start to qualify for that a few years ago. The next level of defense cooperation – and we are proud to serve with you in Afghanistan – was unimaginable a couple of years ago.

Further development of our bilateral ties in all kinds of other fields where Georgia just had to get to this level to be good partners with you. And again, this mature Georgia wouldn’t have been possible without your personal involvement, and we are looking forward to seeing you in our city of Batumi in months to come. And again, thank you so much. Thank you for treating us like this, because I’ve really, as I said, my nation (inaudible) people in our region have been watching and we’ve been –we are not going back empty handed but we are so much (inaudible), so many things to carry back that it’s sensational. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Mr. President.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

PRN: 2012/159