U.S. Vice President Cheney to visit Ukraine in September
The trip will begin on September 2
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Georgia early next month, the White House said on Monday, in an effort to help shore up the small but vital ally after its war with Russia, according to Reuters.
At the request of President George W. Bush, Cheney will meet Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and also visit Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Italy during his trip, which will begin on Sept. 2, his office said in a statement.
"The president felt it was important to have the vice president consult with allies in the region on our common security interests," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in Texas, where Bush was spending two weeks at his ranch.
Cheney is due to meet President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Viktor Yushchenko, the president of Ukraine, who has pressed to join the NATO alliance quickly after the Russia-Georgia crisis that unnerved many former Soviet republics.
Russia and Georgia, which hosts two major energy pipelines, went to war after Tbilisi tried to retake the breakaway pro-Russian province of South Ossetia on Aug. 7-8, prompting an overwhelming counter-attack from Moscow.
Russian troops moved into Georgia beyond South Ossetia and a second separatist region of Abkhazia, leading to criticism from the United States and others that Moscow had gone too far.
In Italy, Cheney will meet leaders including Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and address a forum in Lake Como entitled "Intelligence on the World, Europe and Italy," the vice president`s office said.
An administration official said the trip had been planned before the fighting broke out between Georgia and Russia but "obviously it has taken on greater importance since recent events."