WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke separately Thursday with Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia's next expected prime minister following a poll victory this week, and President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream alliance shocked the ruling party of staunch US ally Saakashvili in Monday's election, has since described Washington as Georgia's "main partner and friend."
During the telephone discussions, Clinton praised Saakashvili for presiding over open and competitive elections and for his statesman-like response to the results, said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
The top US diplomat also "congratulated Ivanishvili on his coalition's victory, and praised the citizens of Georgia for actively participating in this historic and peaceful election," Nuland added.
Ivanishvili said earlier Thursday that he had a plan but no fixed date to make Washington his first foreign destination should he become prime minister.
The billionaire wants to restore Georgia's relations with Russia but is also seeking to continue the bid for membership in NATO, a central plank of Saakashvili's policy that infuriated the Kremlin.
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