Georgia's president says he hopes a visit from NATO's chief will accelerate his nation's drive to join the Western alliance.

Mikhail Saakashvili said Monday that Georgia and NATO should work hard to show that Georgia is on track to join what he called the "Euro-Atlantic family."

He said that is Georgia's proper and rightful place.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer criticized Russia but spoke cautiously in opening remarks before a NATO-Georgia meeting.

Georgia's president has angered Russia with his pursuit of NATO membership. Last week he said Russia went to war to keep Georgia out of the alliance and warned NATO not to let Moscow get its way through force.