IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Readout of Secretary Hagel's meetings with the President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili of Georgia


Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby provided the following readout:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met in Tblisi today with the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, as well as Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.

Secretary Hagel thanked the president for his leadership and for the contributions Georgia continues to make in Afghanistan and other peacekeeping missions. He also praised the efforts of Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania in helping our two militaries maintain a strong defense relationship.

On the heels of the NATO Summit in Wales -- where Georgia earned enhanced partner status -- the secretary reaffirmed the United States' firm commitment to working with Georgia on a range of bilateral and Alliance initiatives to improve Georgia's interoperability and readiness.

Georgia’s new status as an enhanced NATO partner will help it advance in its preparations towards NATO membership, a goal which the NATO heads of state once again endorsed in Wales.

The two leaders also discussed a host of regional security issues, including Russia's continued aggression inside Ukraine and threat its actions pose to the regional and international order, as well as the threat posed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East. A common concern highlighted in the secretary's meeting with the president -- and earlier in the day with the prime minister -- was the very real problem of foreign fighters flowing into Syria to join various extremist groups and the threat those fighters represent to their homelands.

Secretary Hagel updated the president and prime minister on U.S. efforts to build a coalition of nations willing to contribute to continued operations inside Iraq and against ISIL. And he thanked Georgian leaders for their willingness to consider ways to support that initiative.

In both his meetings this afternoon, Secretary Hagel pledged to continue the close dialogue and cooperation between our two countries.