Georgia to send 100 soldiers to Afghanistan
Georgia will send 100 soldiers to Afghanistan to serve alongside US and NATO forces, the ex-Soviet nation's foreign minister has said.
Grigol Vashadze's statement reflected the US ally's continuing effort to court NATO in a hope of winning membership.
Vashadze told Georgia's Rustavi television that soldiers will be deployed to Afghanistan in the near future.
"This is our contribution to the fulfillment of the tasks NATO is facing in the region," Vashadze said on a trip to Krakow, Poland, where he was attending a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
Georgia, a staunch US ally, contributed 2,000 soldiers to the US-led coalition in Iraq. They were withdrawn last August amid a war with Russia. Georgia also briefly deployed 50 soldiers to Afghanistan in 2004 and sent troops to a NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's efforts to shed Russia's influence and lead Georgia to join NATO and other Western structures has put him on a collision course with Moscow.
When Georgia moved in August to regain control over its breakaway province of South Ossetia, Russia sent a massive force which quickly routed the Georgian military and inflicted severe damage on Georgia's economy.