Cheney Holds Italy Talks After Vow Of Support For Georgia, Ukraine
LAKE COMO, Italy -- US Vice President Dick Cheney held talks with world leaders Saturday on the last stop of a four-nation tour in which he pledged US support for ex-Soviet republics after Russia's conflict with Georgia.
Cheney met first with former president of Spain Jose Aznar at the Ambrosetti forum in picturesque Lake Como, and was later to meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and British Petroleum and Goldman Sachs International Board Chairman Peter Sutherland.
The US vice president was scheduled to address the conference, which brings together political and financial leaders to discuss world events, at 5:00 pm (1500 GMT).
Cheney arrived Friday in Italy after pledging Washington's "deep and abiding interest" in Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and slamming Russia's military actions last month over the rebel region of South Ossetia.
The US vice president also expressed support for Georgia and Ukraine becoming eventual members of NATO. He was expected to press that message to leaders at the conference, and in one-on-one talks.
During his trip, Cheney urged the expansion of energy routes that would take oil and gas to Europe and bypass oil giant Russia, pledged US support for ally Georgia and called on Ukraine's leaders to unite in the face of Russian "threats."