Ankara Tbilisi Sign Military Cooperation Accords

ANKARA (French Press)–Turkey and Georgia signed a series of accords to reinforce military cooperation–on January 29–the opening day of an official visit by Georgian President–Eduard Shevardnadze–to Ankara.

One accord covers landmine clearance along the neighbors’ frontier–while a second stipulates cooperation in the defense industry.

"The countries–which have excellent relations–are already linked by military accords. These new accords set the framework of a more intense cooperation," a Turkish diplomat said.

According to a joint statement–discussions on Monday between President Shevardnadze and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Necdet Sezer–were focused on security issues in the troubled Caucasus region and the fight against terrorism.

Ankara and Tbilisi have developed friendly ties since Georgia gained independence after the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Over the past three years–Turkey has donated some 13 million dollars for Georgia’s defense needs–while relations between Tbilisi and Moscow cooled in the wake of Russia’s intervention in Chechnya.

Shevardnadze is in Turkey for a two-day visit–with discussions also scheduled on a controversial oil pipeline project.

The joint project–heavily backed by the U.S.–will carry oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan–bypassing Russia.

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