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U.S. Launches Humanitarian Aid Mission to Georgia


Washington : The U.S. military began a humanitarian airlift to Georgia on Wednesday and will review the needs of the country’s military following its brief but deadly conflict with Russia, the Pentagon said.

Earlier on Wednesday, President George W. Bush announced that a U.S. C-17 transport airplane was traveling to Georgia with humanitarian supplies. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said that a second C-17 flight was scheduled to go to Tbilisi on Thursday, also carrying medical supplies, temporary shelter, bedding, and other items.

“We are going to look at a wide range of assistance options that are available to us,” Whitman told reporters. “The quickest way to expedite and provide some immediate relief from suffering is to do it by air.”

Whitman would not comment on Bush’s statement that U.S. naval forces also would be used to deliver humanitarian relief.

A U.S. military assessment team will travel to Tbilisi in coming days to assess the situation and identify the longer-term needs of the Georgian military, Whitman said.

“They are a good ally. I’m sure the [military-to-military] relationship will continue, and we’ll be looking at what their needs are,” he said.

In his statement, Bush warned Russia that the United States expected it to ensure that all seaports, airports, roads, and airspace remain open for the delivery of humanitarian aid and civilian transit.

Whitman declined to say whether Moscow had offered assurances of safe passage. “I’ll just say the Russian government was notified of what we were doing,” he said.