Tbilisi, DFWatch–Georgia’s Speaker of Parliament on Sunday left for his first visit to the US amidst harsh criticism of the country’s new government from the Congress and US media.

Davit Usupashvili, the speaker and the chairman of the Republican Party, is to hold meetings with the representatives of the U.S. Department of State, the Security Council, senators and congressmen.

Tedo Japaridze, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament and is a former ambassador to the US, as well as Irakli Chikovani, another MP from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition are also part of the delegation.

“This is my first official visit abroad as a Speaker of Parliament,” Usupashvili told journalists before his departure. “Twenty five meetings are planned in congress and with the members of the house and the senate.”

He said on Sunday that the Georgian delegation will also hold meetings at US think tanks and with representatives of the US media.

“This way we will introduce the views of the new government to our partners,” he added.

The visit will last for one week.

Last week Tamar Beruchashvili, the deputy minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, told journalists that the government last month has hired the powerful American lobby firm Patton & Boggs to ‘facilitate Georgia’s bid to become a member of NATO and the EU’. The Brussels-based PR firm Cambre has also been hired.

Some see the move as an attempt counter criticism from Western politicians and media against the new Ivanishvili government. Georgian Dream argues that the criticism originates from lobbying efforts by President Mikheil Saakashvili and his United National Movement Party, accusations that are denied by the UNM.

Usupashvili’s Republican Party is regarded as a ‘pro-Western’ political force and enjoys close ties with their colleagues in Europe and the US.