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U.S. to Provide $1 Billion for Georgia Reconstruction, Humanitarian Aid

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2008 – The United States will provide $1 billion in recovery aid to Georgia, President Bush announced today.

Russia invaded the Caucasus republic in August and still has troops in the country in violation of a cease-fire agreement reached Aug. 13. Through Operation Assured Delivery, the U.S. military has delivered more than 2 million pounds of humanitarian supplies to the former Soviet republic.

Bush said the new funds will help meet Georgia’s humanitarian needs and support its economic recovery.

“More than half of these funds will be made available in the near term and will support reconstruction efforts in Georgia, assist the government of Georgia in leading the nation’s recovery and meet ongoing humanitarian needs, including the resettlement of displaced families,” Bush said in a written statement released by the White House.

The rest of the money, along with funds from the European Union, will help Georgia rebuild critical infrastructure and help local communities and businesses get back on their feet. “My administration looks forward to working with Congress on elements of this package,” Bush said.

Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to brief Georgia’s leadership on the aid package when he visits the country’s capital of Tbilisi tomorrow.

The U.S. and European reconstruction aid is to be used in Georgia proper and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Before the Russian invasion over the breakaway regions, Georgia had one of the fastest-growing economies in the area, Bush said. The new aid will build on Georgia’s strong economic foundation. “Our additional economic assistance will help the people of Georgia recover from the assault on their country, and continue to build a prosperous and competitive economy,” Bush said.

Humanitarian aid will continue to flow to Georgia. Air Force and Navy planes have flown 61 sorties into Georgia delivering supplies. These include more than 150,000 packaged meals, more than 350,000 humanitarian daily rations, 10,500 cots, almost 20,000 sleeping bags, and thousands of blankets, sheets and tents.

The Navy’s USS McFaul and Coast Guard Cutter Dallas delivered 231,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies including baby food, bottled water and personal hygiene kits to the Georgian port of Batumi. The Navy’s USS Mount Whitney will deliver more humanitarian supplies when it docks in Georgia in the next few days.

Since the conflict began, the United States has sent nearly $30 million in humanitarian assistance to Georgia, Bush said.

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