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Georgian PM and Ministers to visit Washington

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, February 21
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili will pay an official visit to the United States of America from February 22 till March 1. The government delegation will include Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze, Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili, and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili.

"This is the first high-ranking visit to the United States for our government. This visit is of great importance. We will work and have meetings in various directions and it is one more proof that the relationship between the United States and Georgia will deepen contributing to its expansion and advancement,” Gharibashvili stated at the cabinet session on February 20th.

The delegation will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings in the Department of State, Congress, and the White House. It is still unknown whether Gharibashvili will meet President Barak Obama. The Georgian side refrains from voicing details regarding the planned meetings, as has been agreed with the White House protocol department.

According to Minister Panjikidze, the PM was invited by US Vice President Joe Biden. The invitation was extended to the Georgian side by the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, when she visited Tbilisi in December 2013.

According to Reuters, Congressional aides said the visit of Gharibashvili to Washington is a step to display the US support of Russia's neighbors amid the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine. The Georgian PM is not the only one from the Eastern Partners who will pay an official visit to the States. The Moldavian PM will also visit Washington next week.

"I can't speak to how the invites were initiated, but the Georgian and Moldovan PMs will be in Washington, the former during the last week of this month, and the latter in the first week in March," congressional aide, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.

The Georgian Cabinet appreciates US support and partnership. Ministers say Gharibashvili’s visit to Washington is extremely important and it will definitely be successful.

“The US is a strategic partner to Georgia. Therefore the PM’s visit is of great importance. I believe it will be a successful visit and many issues will be discussed,” Minister of Healthcare Davit Sergeenko said.

The Georgian side will discuss political and economic issues with the US partners, as well as the progress the country has achieved on the way to Euro-Atlantic integration.

The Georgian Minister of Economy confirmed that he plans to meet the representatives of the largest business groups in the US. According to Kvirikashvili, the Georgian side would like to promote US investments in various industries in Georgia. The Minister is positive that strong political ties between the two countries will be an asset for future economic relations.

“The strategic partnership we have with the US definitely has to be reflected in the economic field as well,” Kvirikashvili said.

The planned visit to the US is highly welcomed by Georgian lawmakers. However, Parliamentary majority and minority groups see the aim of the visit in various ways. According to the Georgian Dream coalition, Gharibashvili’s visit to the States is a great success for the new government and a proof to strong ties between the countries, while members of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party say the PM and his cabinet will be strongly criticized in the US. The UNM believes that the government will receive recommendations in Washington and lawmakers hope these recommendations will be considered in the future.