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United States to Help Build Georgian Air Defense (16.06.12)

The United States has pledged to help Georgia develop its air defenses and coastal surveillance capabilities, following a meeting in the South Caucasus nation.

The two countries' working groups also discussed options to boost Georgia's "defensive combat engineer capabilities, improve leadership and training skills of its non-commissioned officers, advance the command and control abilities of its brigade headquarters, and prepare to upgrade its utility helicopter fleet," the U.S. State Department said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday.

The meeting was part of an annual plenary session of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission, which was opened in Batumi on June 5 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri.

The nations agreed to move "move from analysis and evaluation to implementation in the coming months," the statement said.

The Commission, which was formed in 2009, also discussed Georgia's upcoming 2012 parliamentary and 2013 presidential elections as well as a host of economic issues.

It also discussed how Georgia can reach out to people of the independent republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia has provided security and assistance for the two tiny nations since its brief war with Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008.