«Status of forces» deal signed

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Latvia and the United States on January 12 signed a so-called "Status of Force Agreement" (SOFA), a move which helps pave the way for a long-term US presence in the country.

As previously reported by LSM, SOFAs establish a legal and jurisdictional framework for US personnel and their dependents who are resident for a longer period than would be the case in a training exercise, for example.

SOFAs generally establish that US citizens will come under US jurisdiction in the countries in which they are stationed, though precise details vary from case to case.

There are also typically measures designed to reduce the amount of red tape and tax forms required for the transfer of military and other official items into and out of the country.

Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and US Ambassador to Latvia Nancy Bikoff Pettit put their signatures to the agreement at a signing ceremony in Riga.

As reported by Estonia's ERR News, on the same day, Estonia's government approved the signing of its own SOFA agreement with the US, and Lithuania is expected to follow suit in the near future.

The round of SOFA agreements is as a result of the US and NATO's plan to keep a "persistent" presence of US troops in the region to deter and potential Russia aggression.

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