Georgian defense minister visits U.S. destroyer, thanks Washington for support
TBILISI. Jan 23 (Interfax) - Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria has visited USS Donald Cook, a U.S. Navy destroyer that arrived in Batumi on Monday, the Defense Ministry press service said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The visit of this ship reaffirms the United States' solid support for Georgia," Izoria said at a reception given onboard the destroyer.
USS Donald Cook captain Matthew Powel told Izoria about performance characteristics of the ship, the press service said.
The destroyer will end its visit to the Georgian territorial waters on January 25. The Coast Guard Service of the Georgian Border Police said earlier that crews of USS Donald Cook and the Georgian Coast Guard would have a joint drill.
This is the second visit of USS Donald Cook, which is armed with 56 Tomahawk cruise missiles operating on a range of 1,600 kilometers and an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, to Batumi.
The U.S. embassy to Georgia said on Monday that the visit of the guided-missile destroyer to Batumi is a leg of its Black Sea tour aimed at enhancing maritime security and stability, readiness and naval capabilities of regional partners of the United States.
The visit of USS Donald Cook to the Black Sea underlines the role played by the United States in the collective defense of its allies (NATO member states) and partners, the embassy said.