US defense help "indispensable" says Foreign Minister

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, currently on a trip to the United States, said March 6 continuing U.S. support in the area of defense and security remains "indispensable".  

At a meeting in Washington D.C. with U.S. senators and members of congress, Rinkēvičs said: "We appreciate Congress' united support for the security of the Baltic States. We are grateful for the frequent visits of Congress delegations to the Baltic States, which serve as a strong signal of support. We urge US Congressmen to continue to visit our region," the minister said in a statement released via his ministry.

The minister also expressed hope that Congress will continue to provide financial backing to regional security in the US Defense Budget for 2018. 

"US support for us is still indispensable. We are interested in keeping a continued U.S. military presence in the Baltic States and in Poland. We hope that the US contribution to transatlantic security will grow in 2018. For their part, the Baltic States have significantly increased their national defense spending, reaching or even exceeding 2% of GDP in 2018," Rinkēvičs said. 

"Baltic-US consultations on protection of critical energy infrastructure and cyber security are planned this year in Latvia. We see the opportunity to develop this cooperation by consulting on aspects of cyber security in other key sectors, such as data security, banking and financial services, and transport infrastructure," the minister said.

He also flagged up the Latvian parliament's recent adoption of U.S.-style 'Magnitsky list' legislation.

The meeting came a day after a meeting March 5 with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss a summit meeting of the Baltic presidents with U.S. President Donald J Trump on April 3 in Washington.   


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