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U.S. forces of NATO train Georgians

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June 16, 2000 


KODA, Georgia (AP) - About 60 doctors, nurses and medics from the U.S. Army and 100 Georgian counterparts on Thursday opened a 10-day joint exercise on evacuating casualties from a massive disaster.


Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze and U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz attended the opening ceremony at the Georgian armed forces' testing ground at Koda, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of the capital Tbilisi.


"This is more than a simple exercise for us," Tevzadze said. "We are grateful to those people who are confident that the Georgian army possesses a potential the international community may benefit from."


The exercise is being held under the aegis of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, which organizes confidence-building joint exercises for would-be members of the western alliance. Georgian leaders have repeatedly expressed the desire to see their former Soviet republic join NATO.


Col. Vakhtang Kapanadze, commander of the Georgian army's 11th Brigade, said that the Americans would teach their Georgian counterparts how to cope with emergencies ranging from earthquakes to bombings. The training will end with a simulated medical evacuation of disaster victims.


After the training is completed next week, U.S. medics and dentists will offer free immunizations and dental care to local residents.    

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