U.S. no longer confirms navy ships headed for Poti

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U.S. no longer confirms navy ships headed for Poti
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Ağustos 26, 2008 12:02

The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi on Tuesday retracted a statement saying a U.S. destroyer and another ship were headed for the Georgian port city of Poti, where Russian forces are deployed. (UPDATED)

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"We cannot now confirm that U.S. ships will be travelling to Poti," embassy spokesman Stephen Guice said.

Guice had earlier said the USS McFaul, a destroyer, and another U.S. ship, the Dallas coast guard cutter, were to arrive Wednesday in the strategic Black Sea port.

Russian forces have carried out patrols in Poti after the bulk of Moscow’s forces withdrew from Georgia last Friday.

Moscow says it has the right under a French-brokered deal to maintain an "area of responsibility" far into the country’s territory, including in and around Poti.

The McFaul arrived at the port city of Batumi on Sunday as the first of three U.S. ships that are to carry thousands of blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies to Georgia.

"At the request of the Georgian government, they will be delivering humanitarian aid to Poti," Guice had earlier said.

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Asked about the presence of Russian soldiers in Poti, Guice had said: "We are not trying to provoke anything, but we are willing to go wherever to deliver humanitarian aid."

Russia has accused NATO countries of using humanitarian aid as cover for a build-up of naval forces in the Black Sea in the wake of the conflict.

Russia sent tanks and troops into Georgian territory in response to a Georgian offensive on August 7 to retake South Ossetia, a breakaway region backed by Moscow.

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