Eduard Shevardnadze, the Georgia president who ingratiated himself with U.S. leaders by supporting reform in the waning days of the Soviet Union, discussed with Vice President Al Gore Thursday ways to develop the economies of the Caucasus region.
They had lunch at the State Department, posed for pictures and took no questions from reporters. Today, Shevardnadze calls on President Clinton at the White House.
The Georgian leader has survived a series of physical and political attacks and managed to hold on to power in the former Soviet republic. As foreign minister of the Soviet Union before its disintegration in 1991, he supported economic and political reform and quit when he found the pace too slow.
The Caucasus are rich in resources. Under discussion is a so-called Eurasian transport corridor that would facilitate Western investment and development in Georgia and neighboring countries.
Shevardnadze also met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary William Cohen and Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Shevardnadze embraced the general in a bear hug, calling him a “fellow countryman.”
Shalikashvili was born in Poland to an ethnically Georgian family.
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