WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Wednesday it did not plan to take control of Georgian airports or ports as part of an aid mission, apparently contradicting a statement by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
“We are not looking to, nor do we need to, take control of any air or sea ports to conduct this mission,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.
In a television address, Saakashvili said an announcement by President George W. Bush of U.S. aid for victims of Georgia’s conflict with Russia meant ports and airports would be taken under the control of the U.S. defense ministry.
“That is not our understanding of the situation,” Morrell said. “What we are focused on at this point is getting humanitarian relief to the people who need it in Georgia.”
A C-17 plane with humanitarian supplies has arrived in Georgia, and it will be followed in coming days by more U.S. military aircraft and naval forces delivering humanitarian and medical aid, the White House said after Bush’s announcement.
“The role of the U.S. military is strictly to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the victims of this conflict,” Morrell said.
Reporting by Andrew Gray; Editing by Kristin Roberts
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