The FINANCIAL -- The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has met with the Georgian prime minister and defense minister in Germany to discuss bilateral defense relations and regional security issues.
The meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashili and Defense Minister Levan Izoria took place on February 17 on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement, according to RFE/RL.
Mattis "praised Georgia's continuing service as the largest non-NATO force contributor and per-capita contributor alongside U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recognizing that this service has come at the price of 32 Georgian service members' lives and 290 more wounded," White said.
She added that Mattis discussed the "significant progress in Georgia's defense reforms and U.S. security assistance to Georgia's armed forces, including the ongoing partnership to enhance combat readiness and institutional capacity via the Georgia Defense Readiness Program."
Mattis also reaffirmed Washington's continued support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Russia-backed breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have declared independence from Georgia.
Russia recognized the regions as independent states following a short war with Georgia in August 2008.
Only a few countries followed Russia's lead in recognizing the entities' independence.