US Vice President Joe Biden coming to Latvia

Take note – story published 7 years ago

United States Vice President Joe Biden will pay a visit to Latvia this summer in a final effort of the Obama administration to reassure its Baltic allies that NATO's Article 5 commitment to collective defense is for real.  

The news came after a Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs news release confirmed Biden's visit will take place "this summer".

"On 22 July, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs was in Washington, D.C. and he met with the U.S. Vice President’s National Security Advisor, Colin Kahl, in order to discuss details of the upcoming visit of Vice President Joe Biden to Latvia," the release said.

"Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed his appreciation that, following the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the news emerged that U.S. Vice President planned to travel to Latvia this summer in order to underline and strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States of America and Latvia.

"The Latvian Foreign Minister gave thanks for the important support being offered by the United States including its military presence and he emphasised that the Vice President’s visit to Latvia will be a good signal to investors because the visit in effect reinforces the decisions made at the NATO Summit in Warsaw and it confirms the existence of a secure environment for investments in our region," the statement said.

During his visit to Latvia, Biden plans to discuss bilateral economic and business relations, energy security, the situations in Ukraine and Syria, as well as talking about the application and implementation of the decisions made at NATO’s Warsaw Summit.

The timing of the visit could not be better given Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's recent comments about providing only conditional support to NATO allies - though as the Obama presidency is now in its dying days, Biden's reassurances might not have a very long shelf life if Trump does capture the White House.

Trump's words were compounded soon after by his senior Republican party colleague Newt Gingrich who described Estonia as merely a "suburb of St Petersburg" in a CBS interview. 

In response to Trump's words, the American Latvian Association (ALA) on July 22 released a statement saying it supported "a robust transatlantic relationship and unwavering American commitment to the NATO alliance."

"Latvia respects and highly values its NATO alliance with the United States.  The Latvian people’s suffering through World War II and the Soviet occupation has taught them the value of freedom and the price to be paid to maintain that freedom. ALA encourages its members to reach out to the presidential nominees and share Latvia’s story and explain why continued American engagement benefits Americans and the world," said the statement signed by ALA's president, Peteris Blumbergs.

However, not all US Latvians share that view, with the chairman of the World Free Latvian Association, Janis Kukainis declaring his support for Trump earlier this year in an interview with the Latvijas Avize newspaper. 

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., to give him his full name, represented Delaware for 36 years in the US Senate before becoming the 47th and current Vice President of the United States.

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