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Georgia takes part in NATO exercises

File Photo of U.S. Marine Officer Speaking at Podium in Georgia, With Georgian Flags and Color GuardTBILISI, April 11 (RIA Novosti)-Georgia is taking part in computer-assisted war games as part of the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, the Georgian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The VIKING-2011 is the 6th in a series of major joint peacekeeping exercises that brings together military and civilian personnel from 24 NATO and partner countries. The drills started last week and will continue until April 15.
[file photo of event marking deployment of Georgian forces to Afghanistan]

"The aim of the exercise is to deepen cooperation, interoperability and credibility between NATO/PfP countries and military, civilian, international and non-governmental organizations," the ministry said on its website.

Georgia is hosting the VIKING-2011 at the Vaziani military base near the capital, Tbilisi, while the main coordination center of the exercise is located in Sweden.

All activities in the exercise are simulated through computers and role-played by personnel via the PfP Simulation Network. The simulation is modeled on current conflict environments, including in Africa and Central Asia.

Georgia has long been pursuing NATO membership, but its bid to get a Membership Action Plan - an essential step on the path to membership - at the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008 was rejected due to pressure from Germany and France. Instead, the alliance merely stated that the country would join at an unspecified date in the future.

Georgian Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Issues Giorgi Baramidze said last week that his country would meet NATO membership standards in two to three years.

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