By Alla Petrova
May 1, 2014
On Tuesday, April 29, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma in Washington met Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. The officials discussed Latvia – U.S. cooperation in the fields of security and energy, informed BC press secretary to the Prime Minister Dzeina Tamulevica.
Discussing the presence of the U.S. military forces in the Baltic Sea region, the Prime Minister expressed hope for long-term presence of NATO forces in Latvia. J.Biden confirmed the stringent guarantees to Latvia, which are set forth in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
The Prime Minister expressed gratitude for the U.S. support to the Baltic security and stated that the U.S. is the most reliable ally and the most important strategic partner of Latvia.
J.Biden appreciated Latvia’s commitment to increase the defence budget to ensure that by the year 2020 it reaches 2% of GDP.
During the conversation, the two officials also paid attention to energy issues. The Prime Minister acknowledged Latvia’s interest in launching export of the U.S. natural gas to Europe. “Latvia is ready to closely cooperate with the U.S. government and companies in searching for alternatives, said L.Straujuma, emphasizing that “the launch of gas exports from the U.S. to the EU would be a good signal to Russia that Europe has alternative options for gas supply”.
J.Biden was also interested in Latvia’s assessment of the situation in Ukraine. The Prime Minister confirmed that it is important for the new government to withstand provocations and ensure state governance and democratic presidential elections on May 25.
The parties shared the same opinion that the negotiations on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should be concluded as soon as possible. J.Biden expressed his hope that Latvia as the future presiding country of the Council of the European Union will give positive contribution to the conclusion of this agreement.
Within the framework of the visit to the U.S., the Prime Minister has already had meetings with the Mayor of Boston Martin J. Walsh and the entrepreneurs from Boston and Massachusetts. The Prime Minister in Boston opened the Latvian – American Business Forum organized by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia. It was attended by 15 Latvian companies, which are interested in expanding the export markets and developing cooperation with the U.S. companies, as well as representatives of about 25 companies who are interested in investment opportunities and partnership development in Latvia.
On April 29, the Prime Minister also had a meeting with Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek, Director of Defence Logistics Agency and attended the Global Procurement Workshop for associations and entrepreneurs. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister delivered a speech at the Atlantic Council’s conference “Toward Europe Whole and Free”, and met the congressmen of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the Embassy of Latvia, the Prime Minister opened the glass design exhibition “A Latvian Voice in Glass” organized by the Latvian Embassy.
The objectives of the visit are to strengthen Latvia – U.S. cooperation in the field of security, to promote political dialogue between the two countries at both the U.S. national level and the level of states, to develop the economic cooperation, as well as to strengthen ties with the Latvian diaspora in the United States.
The working visit to the U.S. is held from April 28- May 2. The Prime Minister will return to Latvia on May 3.