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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rodhams Asked to Drop Georgian Ventures

WASHINGTON -- The White House has urged President Bill Clinton's brothers-in-law to abandon a business deal in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, after an opponent of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze tried to use that deal for his own political advantage.

Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, told Hugh and Tony Rodham this month that their efforts to establish walnut and tea processing businesses in western Georgia were "being misrepresented as somehow reflecting a change in U.S. policy,'' White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said Thursday.

"Mr. Berger ... suggested that, all things considered, they should withdraw from this,'' Lockhart said.

The brothers at first rejected the request, saying in a statement they had no reason to believe they or their associates were involved "in any illegal activities.'' But their lawyer, James Hamilton, later told The Washington Post they had decided to withdraw from the venture because they did not want "to do any harm to the first lady or the administration.''

The Rodhams, brothers of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, spent eight days in Georgia in late August, looking into investments in Batumi, capital of the Ajaria region.

Ajaria's political boss, Aslan Abashidze, issued a statement after the visit suggesting the Rodhams' presence in the region had represented "political support rendered to him by U.S. President Bill Clinton,'' the White House said.