TBILISI, Georgia -- House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, traveled today to the Republic of Georgia, meeting its president and other top leaders at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"We hope our presence demonstrates American solidarity and lifts the morale of the Georgian people," Berman said.
The congressmen arrived on a U.S. military C-17 aircraft carrying humanitarian aid. They met with President Mikheil Saakashvili, Speaker David Bakradze and other parliamentary officials, along with Georgian Prime Minister Vladimer Gurgenidze and the minister of defense and minister of reintegration and conflict resolution. They conferred as well with U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John F. Tefft
“Russian troops must withdraw from Georgia immediately as they promised to do," Miller told Georgian officials. "The integrity of the Georgian borders must be restored and its national sovereignty must be honored."
"We came here with the strong belief that Russian troops must leave Georgia as promised," said Berman. "Their presence serves no good purpose, represents an intimidating force, and obstructs the delivery of humanitarian assistance as well as the rebuilding of what they have destroyed. America cannot sit idly by in the face of such aggression and the effort to remove the democratically elected leader of a sovereign nation."
The Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on June 18 to examine U.S. policy on long-term conflicts and potential flashpoints in the Caucasus. At the hearing, Berman asked Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried to explain "what steps this Administration (would) take in the coming months to help prevent further escalation of this conflict."
Before leaving Georgia, Berman said that when Congress comes back into session in September "we will turn our attention to providing the assistance that Georgia needs to rebuild its infrastructure, proviide humanitarian relief, aid its damaged military and help shore up its currency."
Miller noted, "Congress should give quick approval to an aid package to help repair the war damage and assist the affected population."