Nuland: Latvia can help bring historic trade deal closer

One of the stars of the US' state department, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, paid a visit to Riga November 20 and took the opportunity to look forward to Latvia's forthcoming EU presidency and the chances of moving forward a comprehensive EU-US trade deal. 

Speaking after talks with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Nuland paid tribute to the "strong example and mentorship that Latvia shows to others." 

"We're also very pleased that the Latvian government has chosen to make the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a cornerstone of its presidency of the European Union.

"As we embark on a relationship with a new Commission it will be very important to accelerate our work together," Nuland said.

Latvia will hold the rotating presidency of the council of the EU during the first six months of 2015.

This is about jobs, this is about prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic but it's also about our free trade model that has worked so well for us and the example that sets at the global trade table.    

Nuland also expressed hope that the Minsk peace deal agreed between Ukraine and Russia could still bear fruit despite evidence that Russia has largely ignored its commitments by continuing to pour troops and weapons into eastern Ukraine.

"The United States and the European Union have been strongly supportive of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements made in early September," Nuland said.

"If Minsk is fully implemented that will bring peace and security and sovereignty back to Ukraine but we have yet to see a commitment on the part of the Russian Federation and on the part of the separatists that they support doing the key things that are necessary including a true ceasefire on the line of contact, closing of the international border, removal of foreign forces."

For his part Rinkēvičs was cautious regarding the prospects for the Minsk deal. 

"There is always a chance for peace and a breakthrough but Russia has to become a part of the solution, not a part of the problem," Rinkēvičs said.

"Both the United states and the European Union should continue our best efforts, to convince also the Ukrainian leadership that we have to work for a solution... but with the principle that it's Ukraine that makes and decides its destiny."

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