Saakashvili: ‘We Need to Strengthen Defense System’

President Saakashvili said on August 21, that Georgia was needed help in "developing our economy, rebuilding infrastructure and strengthening our defense capacity and security structures."

"You know that a group of [U.S.] senators visited Georgia yesterday. They are ready to allocate great funds for strengthening the defense systems of Georgia. We, together with the U.S. command and NATO, are now working over identifying in which direction this strengthening should take place," he said.

Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham visited Tbilisi on August 20 and held talks with the Georgian leadership.

"[We] would like to see the United States provide assistance to the Georgian military — self-defense equipment that will help them defend and deter against Russian aggression in the future," he said in Tbilisi.

"We asked them [the Georgian authorities] what security needs they had, and they were quite specific and quite defined," he added.

The Georgian officials say anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems were top priority.

President Saakashvili also said on August 21: "Georgia needs much more resources, much more assistance. We will become ten fold, hundred fold stronger as a result of this occupation and we will continue our development."

Saakashvili was speaking after meeting with the commander of the U.S. European Command, Gen. John Craddock, who is also NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe and Henrietta Holsman Fore, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

"We will have to help them rebuild because they are a partner in the war on terror," Gen. Craddock said.

[Source: Civil Georgia, Tbilisi, 21Aug08]

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