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Members want Saakashvili to address Congress

By Jackie Kucinich, thehill.com

August 18, 2008

House and Senate leaders should invite Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to address a joint session of Congress, according to bipartisan members of the Congressional Georgia Caucus. The gesture of support would express “solidarity and commitment” to a U.S. ally under attack by Russia, according to a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to House and Senate Democratic and GOP leaders by Reps. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

“Importantly, Georgia has been a close ally of the United States and deployed its forces to assist our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as cooperated with the United States in a number of other counter-terrorism measures,” the members wrote. The members also noted that the Georgia-Russia conflict could have an impact on energy. “Furthermore, Georgia lies on a strategically important East-West axis over which the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline provides the world with another alternative to dependency on Russian energy.” Schwartz and Shuster serve as co-chairmen of the Congressional Georgia Caucus, which includes 14 members. The letter was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Russian troops remain in Georgia following a dispute between the countries over a region in Georgia that is held by separatists allied with Russia. Russian troops entered Georgia after pushing Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, the region held by separatists. They also bombed locations in Georgia as part of their advance. The severity of the Russian response and its decision to attack beyond the violated territory drew sharp criticism internationally. The Bush administration has called on Russia to honor a cease-fire agreement that requires it to remove its troops from Georgia. Georgia has also come under criticism for bombing civilian areas in South Ossetia. Schwartz and Schuster said last week they would file a resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to find a new location for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are currently scheduled to be held in Sochi, a Russian city not far from Georgia. “The Russian Federation’s invasion of the Republic of Georgia and its actions against its democratically elected president violate international standards,” Schwartz said. “Russia must realize that its actions in Georgia will not be ignored by the international community. We stand by Georgia, our friend and ally, and call on the IOC to designate a new venue for the Russian Olympics.”

In an interview with Russian daily Kommersant, Russia Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov responded, “The location of the Olympics is not determined by American laws.”

He also said South Ossetia would not remain a conflict zone in 2014, when Sochi hosts the Winter Olympics.


Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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