Kerry lauds Latvia’s EU leadership as ‘frontline’ state

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US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Latvia for being a “very important NATO ally” in its status holding the six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU until July upon welcoming Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs to Washington Thursday.


In his remarks he repeated American vows that “our (NATO) Article 5 obligations are absolutely rock-solid,” and thanked Latvia for committing to raise its defense spending to meet the alliance’s requirement to allot 2% of the state budget for supporting its own NATO membership obligations.

Kerry also called on Latvia in its EU Council Presidency to continue its strong support for the trade partnership TTIP and help “try to take away the mythology that some people have spread, the complete inaccuracies about some things that people fear and point out that this is a way of kicking all of Europe’s economy into gear. This is a job creator,” the US government’s top diplomat said.

Kerry concluded his welcome by saying he was “glad that Latvia has recognized its own responsibilities in the fight against violent extremism and is stepping up to be helpful.”

On his part, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed his readiness to discuss all of the issues on the table, referring to the day’s informal meeting of EU interior and justice ministers in Riga, which Latvia is of course hosting and chairing. He also thanked the US for “providing necessary assets” in ensuring security in the Baltic States.

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