WASHINGTON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday she had called her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to express concern about the tension between Russia and Georgia.
"We are very concerned at the steps that have been taken and we have made our views known to the Russian government," Rice said atthe start of a meeting with visiting Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
"The United States is absolutely committed to the territorial integrity of Georgia," Rice said, adding that she has also spoken with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Media reports said Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree earlier this week ordering his government to establish legal links with neighboring Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgia has condemned the Russian move, though the decree did not mention recognizing the two regions' claims for independence from Georgia.
Bilateral relations between Russia and Georgia have cooled and the United States has voiced strong support for the pro-Western Georgian government headed by Saakashvili.