Thousands of Georgians unhappy over the way a recent parliamentary election was held took to the streets of the capital Tbilisi on Wednesday, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with politicians and a church leader.
Georgia, a small South Caucasus country which Washington has traditionally strongly supported, including with military aid, is Pompeo’s latest stopover on a multi-country tour.
Pompeo on Wednesday held talks with President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II, as well as civil society representatives.
Pompeo told the Georgian prime minister he recognised “the pain and difficulty connected to the (Russian) occupation of your country”, a reference to the fact that Russian forces garrison two breakaway Georgian regions after a 2008 war.
Pompeo said the United States wanted to continue supporting Georgia in building its institutions to ensure “free and fair elections and all of the things that come with robust debate and democracy”.
Al Jazeera’s Robert Forestier-Walker reports from Tbilisi.