U.S., Georgia hold joint military drill near Russian one

2008-07-15 14:46:40 GMT       2008-07-15 22:46:40 (Beijing Time)       xinhuanet

MOSCOW, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The United States and Georgia Tuesday launched a joint military exercise in the South Caucasus state, while Russian troops were taking part in a drill in the nearby region.

The joint Immediate Response 2008, near Georgia's capital of Tbilisi, will continue throughout July, the Georgian Defense Ministry said.

A total of 1,650 personnel, also including troops from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, will take part in the exercise that was funded by the U.S. Defense Department and will cost some 8 million U.S. dollars, RIA news agency reported.

Also Tuesday, Russia launched a large-scale anti-terrorism military exercise in the country's North Caucasus region.

The Caucasus-2008 drill will involve some 8,000 troops, 700 armed vehicles and 30 helicopters, military sources said.

Tensions are growing high between Georgia and Russia due to Georgia's NATO bid and disputes over its breakaway republics that have close ties with Russia.

However, a senior Russian officer said the exercise was decided on in 2007 and has no link with the current bilateral ties.

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