Georgia''s conflict with Russia cannot be allowed to damage Tbilisi''s hopes of one day joining NATO, the US envoy to the military alliance said Monday.

"That Russia invades Georgia shouldn''t affect our thinking," Ambassador Kurt Volker said in a speech at the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Brussels.

"What we have to look at is: is Georgia committed to developing a modern, democratic, prosperous economy, does it want to integrate into Euro-Atlantic institutions and can we help it to develop on that track," he said.

NATO leaders vowed in April that Georgia, along with Ukraine, would one day be allowed to enter the world''s biggest military alliance, and that Russia must not be allowed to veto their hopes.

The 26 leaders tasked their foreign ministers to assess the progress of both toward a Membership Action Plan (MAP) -- the penultimate step to joining -- in December.