Baltic Presidents meet Vice President Pence

Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis meets United States Vice President Michael Pence in Tallinn July 31.

Pence arrived July 30 for a two day visit.

Our colleagues at ERR News in Estonia have lots of pictures of Pence in Tallinn and extensive coverage of his program. Predictably, security in Tallinn is tight.

On Sunday Pence met Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and Minister of Defence Jüri Luik.

After the meeting Ratas said the deployment of Patriot missiles to Estonia had been discussed but no details agreed.

Monday Pence participates in a discussion about technology and then meets with the three Baltic presidents. This story will be updated accordingly. 

Pence gave an interview to the Fox News channel. The introduction points out that Tallinn is "just a twelve hour drive to Moscow... and this is a country that's really been hit very hard in recent years by Russian cyber attacks"

Pence says in the interview that "America first does not mean Alerica alone," and later that the U.S. is "determined to re-engage the world in a way that puts America first."

He also expressed optimism that Russian behavior in Ukraine and elsewhere would change.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid tweeted about the presidential pow-wow:

Speaking at a press conference after their joint meeting, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said security had been the main topic discussed but other issues also cropped up.

The US was providing "daily care" in the protection of joint values, she said.

Vejonis said "We are friends who can rely on each other at any time and in any situation."

"We really welcome the US commitment to enhancing energy security" he added, saying US imports of LNG would also reduce energy prices.

"We really had today a very good meeting," he said.

Lithuania's Dalia Grybauskaite, as usual was slightly more outspoken, listing various ways in which the US was boosting defense capability.

"We do see huge pressures, unconventional pressures on us - it is cyber atacks and also energy [attacks] she said."

"Russia always used energy projects as tools of influence," she said.

She also urged President Trump to "impose sanctions for the Kremlin policies of using energy as a tool of manipulation."

Pence said he had been sent by Trump to say: "We are with you. We stand with the people of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and we always will."  

Pence also said he was pleased Estonia was one of only five NATO countries to spend 2% of GDP on defense and welcomed Latvian and Lithuanian commitments to do so next year.

"No threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the specter of your unpredictable neighbor to the east," Pence said.

"We hope for better days, for better relations with Russia, but recent diplomatic action taken by Russia will not deter" US determination and commitment to collective defense, Pence said.

"Our bond will only grow stronger," he added.

However, there were no press questions after the official statements were read out.


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