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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 02:26 GMT
Powell backs new Georgia leaders
By Nick Childs
BBC correspondent, Washington

Interim Georgian President Nino Burdzhanadze
For the US it is time to move on
According to the US State Department, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has telephoned the new interim president in Georgia to offer support.

He also encouraged her and her colleagues to proceed in a manner consistent with Georgia's constitution.

The US statement paid a warm tribute to the departed President Eduard Shevardnadze.

It called him a towering figure in Georgian history and a close friend of the United States.

Aid and soldiers

But it is also clear that Washington sees it as time to move, albeit with a word of warning that the way ahead much be in accordance with Georgia's constitution.

It says it looks forward to working with the new interim president to maintain the integrity of Georgia's democracy, as it puts it, and stands ready to support the new government in holding free and fair parliamentary elections in the future.

Largely because of the esteem in which Mr Shevardnadze was held in Washington, the United States has given hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Georgia.

The US, like others, has also been concerned at the political convulsions there because Georgia in on the route of a strategic new Caspian oil pipeline.

And that part of the world had also taken on new significance for the Bush administration because of its global war on terrorism and the hunt for al-Qaeda.

US troops have been in Georgia to help train the local forces.

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