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NATO begins military exercises in Georgia

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Military officers of different nations carrying their country's flag. File photo

TBILISI (BNS): NATO has begun a month-long military exercise in Georgia, involving at least 1,100 soldiers from more than a dozen NATO and non-NATO states.

"The NATO military exercises code-named Cooperative Lancer/Cooperative Longbow began on Wednesday, and an official opening ceremony of the exercises will be held on May 11," a source with the Georgian Defense Ministry was quoted as saying by foreign news agencies.

The exercise will take place in two parts; the first part will focus on the training and compatibility with NATO procedures in a crisis response operation and the second to provide basic training for peacekeepers.

Georgia has lauded the exercises as a gesture of solidarity nine months after its brief war with Russia last summer, but Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described the exercise as ďan overt provocation."

A Georgian defence ministry spokesman responsible for the NATO exercises, Colonel Giorgi Kakiashvili, said they were going ahead as planned, adding, that a full-scale command exercises would begin on Monday.

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