New Georgian foreign minister calls US top ally

(AP) New Georgian foreign minister calls US top ally
By DESMOND BUTLER
Associated Press
WASHINGTON
Georgia's new foreign minister is reassuring the United States that it remains her country's most important ally.

A day after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Maia Panjikidze also brushed off U.S. concerns about arrests of allies of President Mikhail Saakashvili.

The U.S. is watching the new Georgian government for signs of drift from the West following October's parliamentary elections. The new prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, defeated Saakashvili's party and assumed much of the government's powers. He quickly pledged to improve relations with Russia and crack down on abuse of power by the former government.

Several officials have already been arrested. On Thursday, Clinton expressed concern about the arrests but also received Panjikidze warmly and praised the country for a peaceful transition of power.

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