(AFP) – Jan 12, 2011
WASHINGTON — Republican US House Speaker John Boehner met Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday and reaffirmed support for the country's "freedom and democracy," the lawmaker's office said.
Saakashvili became the first foreign leader to meet with Boehner since the Republican from the state of Ohio formally became the third-ranking US elected official last week in the wake of his party's romp in November 2 elections.
"We had a constructive conversation about the importance of ensuring Georgia's commitment to freedom and democracy is not undermined," Boehner said in a statement released by his office.
"The United States has long seen it as a moral duty to assist those who seek the blessings of self-government for themselves. That is why the American people will continue to stand with others struggling for democracy over the forces of despotism, dignity over degradation, and freedom over subjugation."
US officials have repeatedly expressed support for Georgia since its August 2008 conflict with Russia, notably for the small US ally's territorial integrity.
After the fighting, Russia recognized breakway Georgia regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, a move that has been followed by only a handful of countries, and set up permanent military bases in each.
Boehner praised Georgia's help in the US-led global war on terrorism, including in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and mourned the loss of Georgians in those campaigns.
"We also reaffirmed other cherished values, including the role and involvement of citizens in petitioning their government, and the necessity of peaceful resolutions to political conflict," said Boehner.
The lawmaker's office confirmed that Saakashvili was the first foreign head of state to meet with Boehner.
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