High anticipation of Merkel visit

Officials and public alike were preparing Monday for the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected in the afternoon for talks on the situation in Ukraine, the reinforcement of NATO's presence in the region and bilateral trade. 

Merkel will lay flowers at the Freedom Monument around 1500 local time before talks with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, a meeting with President Andris Berzins and then addressing representatives of the German and Latvian chambers of commerce in a whistlestop one-day visit.

Speaking on Latvian Radio Monday morning, Straujuma said she would ask Merkel to support a "permanent, long-term presence" of NATO forces in the Baltic states, though signalled this might not necessarily mean the establishment of new bases.

"Something along those lines is needed as a preventative measure to guard against Russian interest in Latvia and the Baltic states," Straujuma said.

Ordinary citizens will be aware of the visit too as a series of temporary road closures will be in place to ensure the security of the German Chancellor, one of the world's most influential politicians and named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine earlier this year who won a second 5-year term in September 2013 last year.

Merkel's influence is regarded as key in matters concerning EU-Russia relations. 

Monday's visit will be the third paid by Merkel to Latvia. Her press conference will be streamed live on the main LSM Latvian language site. 

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