Published January 30, 2012
| Associated Press
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is offering encouragement for the former Soviet republic of Georgia's hopes for a preferential trade agreement with the United States, but says the country has a way to go in its economic reforms.
Obama praised visiting Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili Monday and said there is a "possibility" of a free trade agreement that is a top priority for Georgia. Obama said the U.S. will help Georgia strengthen its free market system with high-level dialogue, but did not address when or under what conditions that might expand.
Georgia's leverage in asking for trade advantages grew last year, when it quietly dropped objections to Russian membership in the World Trade Organization.