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Latvia wants to begin talks with US on possible deployment of a military contingent in the country, with Latvia covering the costs - Pabriks
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    Latvia wants to begin talks with US on possible deployment of a military contingent in the country, with Latvia covering the costs - Pabriks

    RIGA, July 11 (LETA) - Latvia wants to start negotiations with the United States on the possible deployment of a military contingent in Latvia and to cover the related costs, Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks (For Development) told the Latvian defense portal Sargs.lv.

    Latvia wants to start negotiations with the United States on the possible deployment of a contingent of forces in Latvia after US President Donald Trump announced the partial withdrawal of troops from Germany. As Pabriks emphasizes, it is important to maintain a significant presence of US forces near NATO's eastern border, so Latvia is ready to host a part of the US contingent's troops, and also cover the related costs.

    He says that in view of changes within global politics and ensuring that the Baltic region and the rest of Europe remains secure, it is important to strengthen the transatlantic link within both NATO and the European Union.

    "The White House's announcement of a certain reduction in US troops in Germany is not very positive from my personal point of view. If we, as a NATO border country, look to the Northern European region, we understand that an even greater US presence is needed in Europe," he said.

    However, the minister acknowledges that the US line of thought is understandable, because it wants each country to strengthen its own national defense capabilities, rather than just relying on allied support. For several years now, Latvia has been among the countries mentioned as a good example with 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) being spent on the defense budget.

    If a part of the US troops is withdrawn from Germany, it is in Latvia's interest that this transfer takes place in accordance with the current security challenges, ie US soldiers are deployed closer to the eastern border - in Poland and the Baltic States.

    "Poland has already received the green light, it will see an increase in the presence of the US troops, so it is important that the US public and politicians understand that the Baltic States and Latvia are ready to host US troops as well, as it will provide additional security for the region and the alliance as a whole. We are also prepared to pay for this, firstly by showing that we are devoting at least 2 percent of GDP to defense, and secondly, by developing the necessary infrastructure as a host country. In addition, about 1,500 soldiers from nine different NATO countries are already stationed in Latvia as party of the the NATO battle groups," Pabriks points out.

    By transferring a part of the US troops in Germany to Latvia, it would also demonstrate the US support for those countries that are seriously thinking about strengthening their national defense capabilities, Pabriks points out.

    Asked what kind of US presence Latvia would be ready for, Pabriks said that it is open to various models - both rotational of for a permanent presence of US military forces in the country.

    • Published: 11.07.2020 13:10
    • Gatis Kristovskis
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