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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement


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Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
February 23, 2000

OSCE Monitoring of Russian-Georgian Border

The U.S. warmly welcomes the establishment of a continuous OSCE monitoring presence on the Russian-Georgian border with Chechnya. We strongly support the OSCE's plan to send an assessment team to the region to begin planning for an enhanced monitoring presence in the spring. This OSCE effort will contribute to transparency on this sensitive border and bolster stability in the Caucasus region. We welcome the participation of Russia and a number of other member states in the OSCE monitoring mission, and will be sending American observers shortly.

The U.S. is continuing efforts to enhance the capability and effectiveness of Georgia's own border guard forces. Under the auspices of our longstanding Border Security and Law Enforcement Assistance Program, funded at $34 million with additional funds to be added this year, we are expediting delivery of uniforms and boots, generators, radios, global positioning system instruments and other equipment. We have provided a helicopter to the Georgian Border Guard for border patrolling and are working to expedite delivery of two more.

Supporting Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity is a central element of U.S. policy in the Caucasus region, and we remain deeply concerned about the potential for spillover of violence from the North Caucasus into Georgia. We note Acting Russian President Putin's December 11, 1999, statement that "Russia will never cross the border of a sovereign state."

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