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U.S. ships to take aid to Georgia
August 22, 2008 / 7:50 AM / 9 years ago

U.S. ships to take aid to Georgia

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TBILISI, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy warship will head through the Bosphorus on Friday taking relief supplies to Georgia, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy in Europe said.

The destroyer McFaul is expected to arrive in Georgia via the Black Sea in about two days and will be followed by two other U.S. ships, officials said.

"The USS McFaul is under way now, having taken on humanitarian supplies for the people of Georgia," the spokesman said.

The ships will be the first U.S. vessels to deliver aid to Georgia since the Caucasus conflict erupted this month. The U.S. military began delivering relief supplies by air a week ago.

NATO-member Turkey earlier authorised the three U.S. ships to sail through the Turkish straits into the Black Sea.

The two Navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are carrying relief supplies including bottled water, blankets, hygiene kits, baby food, milk and nappies, said Commander Scott Miller, spokesman for the U.S. 6th Fleet.

He said the McFaul and the Coastguard cutter Dallas were expected to arrive in Georgia next week and the command ship Mount Whitney around the month-end.

Georgia has been the scene of violent clashes between Russian and Georgian forces after moves by Tbilisi to re-establish control over its breakaway province of South Ossetia, and thousands of people have been uprooted.

Turkey governs international traffic through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which sets weight limits on ships belonging to countries that do not have a border with the Black Sea.

Turkey, which has close ties with neighbouring Georgia and is a key strategic ally of Washington, has been walking a delicate diplomatic line during the Caucasus conflict in order not to antagonise Russia. (Reporting by Zerin Elci in Ankara and David Brunnstrom in Tbilisi; editing by Tony Austin)

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