TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. President Barack Obama said after hosting the Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili in the Oval Office Monday that the United States will explore various trading options, including the possibility of a free trade agreement.

The president made it clear that there still is a lot of work to be done and that a lot of options will have to be explored.

Monday’s meeting had been eagerly awaited among Tbilisi’s political circles. Beforehand, the White House announced that the two leaders would be discussing strengthening relations following a strategic partnership signed in the wake of the Georgia-Russia war of August 2008.

In his comments to journalists, President Obama expressed his appreciation for the work Georgia has done building democratic institutions and made reference to the importance of protecting minorities as well as the importance of a police and a rule of law that is observed.

Many observers have noted the possibility of a potential “Putin scenario” in Georgia. The American president noted that he was anticipating the formal transfer of power after elections this fall, which would solidify many of the reforms that have taken place.

Regarding defense cooperation, President Obama further noted that Georgia has been one of the most dedicated non-NATO contributors to ISAF operations in Afghanistan.

Obama also commended Georgia on being a responsible player on the world scene and in multilateral fora.