G7 Calls For Increased Aid to Georgia

ReutersGeorgians confronting Russian soldiers at a checkpoint near Kaspi on Wednesday and demanding that they leave.
WASHINGTON -- The world's major industrial countries are calling for increased economic support for war-torn Georgia.

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrial countries issued a joint statement Wednesday pledging support for Georgia's economy and its financial system. They also urged other countries and institutions to assist in the effort.

"We, the G7, stand ready to support Georgia in order to promote the continued health of the Georgian economy, maintain confidence in Georgia's financial system and support economic reconstruction," the finance officials said.

The United States has been leading the international response after fighting broke out in Georgia earlier this month between Russian and Georgian troops over Georgia's breakaway territory of South Ossetia.

A convoy of badly needed food aid for beleaguered Georgians was allowed past a checkpoint by Russian troops on Wednesday, but there have been few signs the Russian soldiers are preparing to fulfill a promise made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that those troops will complete a withdrawal from Georgia by Friday.

In their statement, the G7 finance ministers endorsed international mediation efforts to "end the hostilities and to bring about a political solution to the conflict in Georgia. The loss of life, humanitarian suffering and wider destruction over recent days is considerable and we welcome commitments to assist with the urgent humanitarian needs."

The statement welcomed the commitment of Georgia and the International Monetary Fund to work on a financial program to support Georgia's economy. It also called on other international lending institutions, including the World Bank, to "promptly identify and support" reconstruction efforts in the country.