|Ninth Georgian soldier killed in Afghanistan|
|June 21, 2011|
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili expressed sorrow on Tuesday after a ninth soldier from the small ex-Soviet state was killed while serving with NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
The private died after an attack by Taliban insurgents in the restive Helmand province, the Georgian defence ministry said in a statement late Monday.
Georgia is a staunch ally of the United States with ambitions to join NATO, and has deployed 950 troops to Afghanistan -- a major contribution from an impoverished country of 4.4 million people.
The Saakashvili administration's NATO bid has infuriated neighbouring Russia, which fought a brief war with Georgia in 2008 over the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Reports in Georgian media have suggested that the country is preparing to boost its deployment even further and intends to become the largest non-NATO contributor to the Western military alliance's forces in Afghanistan.
Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.
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