"Everyone knows that Ukraine is ready to send its peacekeepers to Georgia," Gela Bezhuashvili said during the talks between Mikheil Saakashvili and Viktor Yushchenko in the Georgian capital.
Nino Burdzhanadze, the speaker of the Georgian parliament, said Ukrainian peacekeepers "could play a positive role in the peaceful resolution of the conflict" in the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia, which together with South Ossetia broke away from central government control in bloody wars in the early 1990s.
Saakashvili, who swept into power on the back of the 2003 "Rose" revolution, has vowed to bring the rebellious provinces back into the fold and has consistently demanded the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers, accusing Russia of siding with the separatists and thereby undermining Georgia's territorial integrity.
The issue was at the center of a bitter diplomatic dispute between Moscow and Tbilisi earlier this fall, and Georgia is still under strict economic sanctions imposed by Russia.
Bezhuashvili also said the two leaders are discussing the diversification of energy supplies to the region.
"Europe should understand that a Georgian-Ukrainian partnership is highly important from the point of view of energy security," the minister said.
In December 2006, Russia's energy giant Gazprom raised natural gas prices for Georgia to $235 per 1,000 cubic meters, saying it was part of its drive to bring gas prices for ex-Soviet states closer to European levels.
Ukraine, the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe, faced the same problem in early January 2006, when a pricing dispute between the two post-Soviet nations led to massive cuts in deliveries to Kiev and consequent disruptions in European bound exports. Ukraine currently pays $130 for 1,000 cu m for a mixture of Russian and Central Asian gas.
Saakashvili and Yushchenko, who have pushed for EU and NATO membership and a reduced influence from Russia since they came to power, will also discuss entry to these organizations, Bezhuashvili said.
A bill to support the NATO bids of the former Soviet republics was recently submitted to the U.S. Senate. Under the bill, Georgia and Ukraine will receive financial aid to join the alliance.