During a visit to Riga, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Latvian would not need visas to visit the country as of Nov. 17.
The announcement came during a visit that the security chief made to Latvia,the first in a series in which he will visit all three Baltic states.
Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins took the opportunity to pledgecloser ties with the United Statesand outline a number of areas where the two countries will deepen theircooperation.
"Now it is important to maintain the excellent cooperation and mutualtrust level to work together towards the international challenges... The modernlife provides new challenges daily," Riekstins told journalists onWednesday.
"Cooperation with the USis not limited to the visa free regime. We have strengthened the cooperation ofdifferent institutions on combating terrorism and organized crime. This processprovided the possibility for strengthening the contacts among experts,"the foreign minister said.
Latvian Interior Minister Mareks Seglins said that the visa free regime willgive new freedoms and possibilities to Latvian citizens.
"This move proves that Latvian-US relations are developing dynamically,they are in progress. The USconsiders Latvia to be a good, safe partner," he said.
Meanwhile, Chertoff said that introduction of the visa free regime is aserious achievement for the further development of the relations of both statesand invited Latvian citizens to visit the U.S.
Latvian citizens will be eligible to travel to the United States without visas from November 17, 2008. Chertoff said that the visa freedom would act as a present to the country for its 90th anniversary.
Citizens of those countries that have joined the U.S. Visa Waiver programare eligible to travel to the U.S.and stay there without visas for up to three months. Those, however, who wantto go to the U.S.to work or study, still need a visa. To enter the USwithout visas, travelers will need an approval from the US Electronic Systemfor Travel Authorization and a passport containing biometric data.