The Baltic Times
By TBT staff
March 2, 2006

RIGA – Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga met with U.S. state officials in Washington today to discuss the upcoming NATO summit, which Riga will host this November, among other issues.

Vike-Freiberga spoke with U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who both congratulated Latvia for its nomination to host the international summit. The Americans also praised the Baltic state for its role in NATO¹s political and military transformation.

In her turn, Vike-Freiberga thanked the United States for supporting Riga as host city of the summit. Cheney and Rumsfeld passed on President George W. Bush¹s greetings to the Latvian president, adding that he would be present at the NATO conference.

During the talks, Rumsfeld remembered his visit to Riga in 1991 and noted the extensive changes Latvia has undergone since re-gaining independence.

The Latvian and U.S. officials also discussed the Alliance¹s political and military transformation, as well as cooperation with NATO partners. Both sides voiced support for the formation of rapid response units by the end of the year, as well as the development of training programs with NATO partners in the Middle East and Africa. The Latvian president highlighted NATO¹s role in patrolling the Baltic air space.

Vike-Freiberga updated the U.S. officials about Latvia¹s development, its economic growth and current issues in the region, as well as Latvia¹s participation in the EU neighborhood policy with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Both sides expressed their support for further democratization in Ukraine.

The Latvian president also thanked the U.S. officials for inviting her to address the U.S. Congress.