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NATO Exercises to Begin in Georgia

June 15, 2002

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TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ Nearly 600 troops from 14 countries are being deployed at a Georgian military base to take part in annual NATO military exercises, officials said Saturday.

The exercise, dubbed Cooperative Best Effort 2002, will take place from June 17-28 at Camp Vaziani outside of Tbilisi as a small unit exercise, said Col. Serge Labbe, a Canadian NATO representative.

``It is designed to allow exercise participants to exchange light infantry skills in a variety of peace support operations,″ Labbe said.

Six NATO countries and eight partner nations are taking part in the exercise.

Participants include: Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Greece, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, Britain, Hungary, Bulgaria, the United States, and Turkey.

Uzbekistan, which was to take part, pulled out Saturday because its troops were preparing for another exercise at home, the ITAR-Tass news agency said, citing officials in the Uzbek defense ministry.

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