Wednesday, May 11, 2005

US investigates Georgia 'grenade'

US investigates Georgia 'grenade'

The US says it is investigating reports that a device - described as a possible hand grenade - was thrown towards President Bush as he visited Georgia.

It landed 30m (100 feet) away from where Mr Bush spoke to a huge crowd in Tbilisi, but did not detonate, according to the Georgian authorities.

It is unclear whether the device contained explosives.

The US Secret Service said it was made aware of Tuesday's incident after Mr Bush had left the ex-Soviet republic.

Mr Bush's speech was the centrepiece of his visit to Georgia - the first by a US president.

He praised President Mikhail Saakashvili and told the tens of thousands of people gathered in Freedom Square that Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution had been an inspiration to people everywhere.

"You gathered here armed with nothing but roses and the power of your convictions and you claimed your liberty," the US president said.

In a reference seen as being directed at Russia, Mr Bush said all nations must accept the territorial integrity of Georgia, where separatists in two breakaway regions - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - have aligned themselves with Moscow.

Mr Saakashvili boycotted Monday's World War II commemorations in Moscow in protest at Russia's continued presence.