NEW YORK — White House sources confirm that Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to the war-torn former Soviet republic of Georgia next week.
The trip, which begins next Tuesday, means that Cheney will likely miss most, if not all, of the Republican National Convention which opens in Minneapolis on September 1.
Controversy has been swirling around the former Soviet state since Russian forces invaded on August 8.
Moscow claims its interventions were no more than an effort to protect Russian citizens living in the autonomous provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgian military forces that had entered the contested regions several days earlier.
Despite repeated demands by the White House and NATO that the Kremlin vacate the contested regions unconditionally, it has refused to do so.
Cheney's visit is designed to raise the stakes politically, though not militarily.
The White House confirms the vice president will meet with Georgian president Mikheil Sakashvili, then will travel to another former Soviet republic, Azerbaijan, and later on to Ukraine, where he will confer with President Viktor Yuschenko.
It was Yuschenko, an outspoken Kremlin critic, who was the target of an unsuccessful poison attack allegedly by Russian agents back in September 2004.
The deadly substance Dioxin was believed to have been added to food eaten by the Ukrainian president.
After Ukraine, Cheney then will travel to Lake Como, Italy, where he will address a symposium on intelligence.
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