Hillary Clinton vows support for Georgia, slams Russian `occupation`

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday reassured Georgia with a pledge of continued support and criticised Russia`s "occupation" of two breakaway Georgian regions.

Updated: Jul 05, 2010, 20:41 PM IST

Tbilisi: US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton on Monday reassured Georgia with a pledge of continued
support and criticised Russia`s "occupation" of two breakaway
Georgian regions.

On her first visit to the ex-Soviet country as secretary
of state, Clinton told a group of women leaders that
Washington would also keep pushing for further democratic
reforms in Georgia.

"We continue to object to and criticise actions by Russia
which we believe are wrong and on the top of the list is the
invasion and occupation of Georgia," Clinton said shortly
after arriving in the capital Tbilisi as part of a regional
tour.

"The United States supports the Georgian people, we
support Georgian democracy," she said.

Clinton was due to meet later with Georgian President
Mikheil Saakashvili, who will be looking for reassurances
Washington has not abandoned support for his country amid a
"reset" in relations with Moscow.

Tbilisi is hoping Clinton will take a hard line on
Russia`s military presence in the rebel regions of South
Ossetia and Abkhazia and that she will reiterate US support
for Georgia`s hopes of joining the NATO military alliance.

Clinton urged further reforms in Georgia, saying a
vibrant democracy and economy were key for it to regain
control of the rebel territories.

"The more vibrant, effective a democracy and economy
Georgia becomes, a greater contrast there will be between
South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia," she said.

Clinton was on the final stop of a tour of eastern
European and Caucasus region countries that has also taken her
to Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

PTI