US official: defence resolve is ‘rock solid’

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The United States will continue to rotate troops in Latvia, demonstrating its rock solid commitment to the territorial defence of the Baltic states, Derek Chollet, the US Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs, told the press after meeting with Minister of Defence Raimonds Vejonis Wednesday.

Chollet and Vejonis conferred on how the decisions made at the NATO summit in Wales would be implemented. Speaking about security cooperation, the US official said that American soldiers had been deployed in Latvia on a rotational basis since April. Chollet said it was just one aspect of the Atlantic Resolve operation, which also involved US aircraft and warships.

"We will continue to rotate troops in Latvia as well as in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland,” he said, adding that a tour of duty to this region was a great opportunity for US soldiers to train with their Latvian partners and build on the interoperability begun in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This demonstrates the rock solid commitment of the United States to our Baltic allies, to NATO and the territorial defence of all NATO members under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty,” Chollet said.

The US Assistant Secretary of Defence congratulated Latvia on the government’s decision to increase the defense budget to 2 percent of GDP, calling it an important milestone.

He also praised the work of Latvian soldiers serving on the NATO-led international operation in Afghanistan. "Thank you for the tremendous work that your soldiers are doing today in Afghanistan and for your commitment to the Resolute Support Operation in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond,” Chollet said.

Both officials also discussed modern geopolitical challenges. "Not all of your neighbors share our common vision of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace,” Chollet said.

"As long as Russia continues on this dark path, it will face increasing political and economic isolation,” he said. ”The United States stands resolutely with our Latvian and Baltic allies in support of the Ukrainian people and the Poroshenko government”.

The US Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs (ISA) arrived in Riga Tuesday. During his official visit to Latvia, Chollet will also meet with Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and other top government officials, as well as Baltic defence policy makers. The US defence official will also visit the Latvian War Museum and participate in a roundtable organized by the Latvian Transatlantic Organization (LATO). Chollet is also planning to inspect joint exercises of US and Latvian troops and meet with the US soldiers stationed at the National Armed Forces Adazi army base near Riga, reported military news portal

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