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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability with President of Georgia

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
October 05, 2001

Friday, October 5, 2001

(Joint media availability at the Pentagon with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. The president's remarks are provided through interpreter.)

Wolfowitz: Good afternoon. We've just concluded a very successful meeting with President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia. We discussed the current status of U.S.-Georgia relations and our security relationship, and our efforts to strengthen that relationship.

We very much appreciate Georgia's early and unconditional support for the fight against terrorism. Georgia was one of the first countries to offer full support, and we will rely on her and all of our friends in this campaign.

We'll be working with Georgia in efforts to secure its borders and its population from terrorism, and in coming days and months we'll be taking some concrete measures to help them strengthen their security.

I will ask President Shevardnadze if he would like to say a few words.

Shevardnadze: Welcome, everybody.

(Technical adjustments.)

Staff: It's working now --

Wolfowitz: There's no volume. There's no P.A.

Shevardnadze: We had a very useful and a very productive meeting.

(Technical adjustments.)

Wolfowitz: I guess it's -- just speak loud. It's not -- it's a --

(Off-mike comments.)

Shevardnadze: Yes, the meeting was a very interesting, a very fruitful one, and was conducted in the same spirit of goodwill and partnership that I had the meeting with the president of the United States today.

And a very general decision that we arrived is that our two countries, together with our friends, must join efforts to collectively, I mean, fight a war against terrorists.

Well, Georgia is a relatively poor country, so we do not have enough means and assets in order to fully and effectively contribute in these efforts. So the United States has promised to us that whatever is necessary and whatever is admissible they would be -- provide to us to help us effectively contribute to this effort.

So I'm very pleased, very satisfied with the results of this meeting.

Q: (Through interpreter) The question is whether -- okay. Did you discuss, or did the Americans request you, Mr. President, that they might be asking you to use the Georgian airspace in the future? And then I -- and also, or to use the airfield and other infrastructure?

Shevardnadze: Well, we did not discuss these specific questions today. As I said earlier, we agreed in principle that we need to cooperate, we need to join efforts. And again, the principle is that both the -- both of our countries will be using all means at their disposal to wage an effective fight against terrorism.

But on my part, I will add that that includes Georgia's airspace, and if need be, airfields and other infrastructure as well.

Q: Mr. President, you were foreign minister when the Soviet Union pulled its troops out of Afghanistan. Did you give any advice to the president or the Pentagon to avoid getting bogged down militarily in that country?

Shevardnadze: He'll remember that I used to be the minister of foreign affairs. (Laughter.) What I think that the president of the United -- I believe that the president of the United States does not need my counsel in this because a war against people cannot be won. For 11 years, the Soviet Union fought against Afghanistan. And then, well I was part, of course, of the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Q: Thank you.

Q: (In Russian; not translated.)

Shevardnadze: (Answers in Russian; translated.) Well, we -- the question had -- (inaudible) to how the Chechen problem was assessed during the meeting, and as the Washington Post reported yesterday, the administration has told the -- or appealed to the Georgian government that jointly with the Russians, Georgia should participate in fighting with the terrorists on the Georgian territory. The answer is that such a fight is already taking place. Yes, there might be terrorists on the Georgian territory, but they are citizens of Russia, and that is why it is up jointly to our two countries to fight against these terrorists.

So Russia and Georgia together must do this.

Q: (Through interpreter.) But what are the plans for financial and military cooperation between Georgia and America? Did you discuss the plans of military cooperation?

Wolfowitz: We will be examining what Georgia's needs are in the area of security assistance, and obviously viewing those requirements in the light of the new situation in the world after September 11th and treating it with both a greater urgency and, I think, a greater availability of resources. And I -- till we've done that assessment, I really can't get into any details.

This will have to be the last question.

Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

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