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Biden affirms NATO commitment to region

Mar 20, 2014
From wire reports, VILNIUS

During his visit to Vilnius, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden ensured NATO's collective defense guarantees and mentioned plans related to training exercises for the rotational forces in the Baltic States, reports ELTA. Lithuania's Minister of Defense Juozas Olekas unveiled that the U.S. was planning to deploy troops in Europe which, together with the Baltic States, would participate in the common training session.

Olekas welcomed Biden's visit to Lithuania and the demonstrated will to defend NATO's territory and space. According to the minister, this visit was affirmation of this commitment.

While talking about the measures that could be taken, Olekas mentioned the more frequent and greater U.S. participation with their soldiers in the various training for the Baltic States, their participation in the processes related to the defense of air space and the reduction of bureaucracy while purchasing weapons.

"I think that we can feel safer after this visit," said the minister.

When Olekas was asked about a permanent U.S. soldier deployment in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, he said that there were talks about a more vivid and bigger representation of US in the region.

"As we already know, today there are several dozen soldiers who are participating in various measures here, in Lithuania, apart from the air policing mission. The current negotiations are over the possibility of such representation related to the training process," said Olekas.

According to the minister, this was one of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite's proposals discussed with Biden on Wednesday, March 19.

Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius repeated that Biden's visit to Lithuania demonstrated NATO's commitments.

"Huge attention is given to the Baltic States and, in any situation, the Baltic States will receive NATO's support," said Butkevicius after the government's sitting and meeting on Wednesday.

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