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U.S., Georgian ships hold exercises

BATUMI, Georgia, July 15 (UPI) -- U.S. and Georgian military officials say joint exercises being held in the Black Sea are meant to demonstrate the two countries' cooperation.

The drills, which began Tuesday off Georgia's coast, were preceded by the arrival in Batumi of the guided missile destroyer the USS Stout, whose captain, Cmdr. Mark Oberley, was welcomed ashore with Georgian music and wine, The Moscow Times reported.

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"This visit and the combined training demonstrate the U.S. and Georgian commitment to work together, to cooperate and maintain maritime security," Oberley told reporters.

Georgian Navy Commander Beso Shengelia told the Times the exercises would be small-scale and would include averting a sinking after a hull breach, capturing a hostile boat and practicing joint maneuvers in conflict situations.

Meanwhile, Russian jets pounded mock targets at the nearby Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, which the newspaper said was a sign of lingering tensions between Moscow and Washington over Georgia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was reportedly shown on state-run television peering through binoculars to watch the exercises.

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