TBILISI, DFWatch – “The military cooperation between Georgia and USA is entering a completely new stage, which means that Georgia will better protect itself,” Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says.

The president said this Thursday during his visit to the U.S. after meeting with Vice-Colonel Alexandre Tughushi, who was wounded during military service in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. He’s currently undergoing medical treatment at Maryland State Military Force Hospital.

The Georgian President awarded him the order of Vakhtang Gorgasali, first level, for braveness, which is considered the highest reward in Georgia.

Earlier, Saakashvili had made a statement about strengthening military cooperation. It came after his meeting with Barack Obama on Monday. He did not specify what exactly strengthening the cooperation meant.

Also on Monday, an official representative from the U.S. State Department was asked at a briefing in Washington, what does ‘the new stage’ in the defense sphere mean and whether it means that USA will supply Georgia with weapon.

Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for State Department, stated that “USA and Georgia agreed to continue bilateral cooperation in the areas of security and defense.”

“This cooperation is built on the successful programs that we already have to help the Georgian military in its reform effort, something that we do with many militaries around the world, including many of Georgia’s neighbors, and their defense modernization effort to support their self-defense – so we’re talking about defense. And also to sustain the work that Georgian forces do in ISAF in Afghanistan and to help them remain interoperable with NATO,” Victoria Nuland said.

According to the president’s administration, the President held a meeting on February 2 with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus, who has led the Georgian military services on two fronts: Iraq and then in Afghanistan. They discussed ‘many acute issues’, according to official information.

General Petreus stated that ‘he is enthusiastic about the braveness of the Georgian soldiers and their fighting spirit.’

At the hospital, the president said that ‘the decision is made that the military cooperation will enter a completely different stage and actually take care of our own security.’

“This is a continuation of what was happening in Afghanistan before. Nothing has passed in vain. These boys in Afghanistan are on the first line for Georgia. I am proud that the centuries and our enemies couldn’t kill our fighters’ spirit, warrior’s spirit and finally, this is what will save the Georgia for long term; and what will make a successful and strong country.”

He says it is an unimaginable tragedy, the loss of Georgian soldiers and officers’ lives in the Afghanistan operation, this is an invaluable experience for the Georgian armed forces and Georgian Army becomes stronger.