Georgia to hold military exercises in Pankisi gorge

Georgian authorities will not allow the military exercises, which will beheld in the Akhmet region, including the Pankisi gorge, to beshort-circuited, Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze said in aninterview with Rustavi-2, a Tbilisi television station. He pointed outthese military exercises had "not only military, but also great politicalimportance". The Georgian Defense Minister was quoted as saying "theexercises will embrace the entire area of the Akhmet region, including thePankisi gorge and the areas close to the Georgian-Russian border".Different arms of the military forces will participate in the exercises,including aviation. The Minister pointed out no US military experts would be involved in thesemilitary exercises, while Georgian officers who had passed training courseswith the US specialists, would take part in them. As Tevzadze reported,around 600 troops will participate in the exercises at the first stage,while at further stages a total of 1,000 troops are expected to join in.The Minister reiterated broad-based military exercises were expected totake place in Georgia in April 2002, but they had been postponed, the BlackSea Press information agency reported. .