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Cheney visit: U.S. treads tightrope on Georgia aid

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"Georgia will be in our alliance," Cheney said, reiterating US support for Georgia's candidacy to NATO. Despite the American position, NATO leaders put off Georgia's application at a summit earlier this year, in part over Russian objections.

Cheney's brief stop in Georgia, part of a swing through former Soviet republics that included Azerbaijan and Ukraine, signaled the tougher branch of the two-pronged US approach. "America will do its duty to work with the governments of Georgia and our other friends and allies to protect our common interests and to uphold our values," the vice president said in Tblisi.

Cheney also made special note of Georgia's willingness to send troops to Iraq. But in Washington, US officials emphasized that the aid package includes no military assistance. In announcing the new assistance, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared to carefully choose her words when she said the aid was meant to "help Georgia sustain itself" – rather than to defend itself.

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