The delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee is on a weeklong working visit to the United States, this time visiting Los Angeles and Washington.
The meetings that take place during the visit will focus on bilateral cooperation between Estonia and the US, foreign trade policy, security and defence, and preparations for the NATO Summit, as well as transatlantic relations, and relations with Russia and Iran.
The Chairman of the Committee Marko Mihkelson highlighted transatlantic unity as the focus of the visit. Mihkelson emphasised that USA is an irreplaceable partner for Estonia in the field of security. “The last thing we would want is to have our excellent defence cooperation overshadowed by the threatening trade war between the European Union and the US over the customs tariffs,” Mihkelson said.
As far as defence cooperation is concerned, Mihkelson explained that in addition to increasing the troops on the eastern border of NATO, it was important to carry out joint exercises and practice cooperation. “Before the NATO Summit in July, we want to convince our allies of the need to turn the Baltic air policing mission into an air defence mission,” Mihkelson said.
The Committee is starting its visit from Los Angeles. Today’s schedule includes meetings in the Phase Two creative incubator in Culver City area, which is one of the innovation centres of Los Angeles together with Silicon Beach and the downtown riverbank area. Over the weekend, the members of the Riigikogu will meet representatives of the Estonian community in the Los Angeles Estonian House, as well as the Finnish Consul and the Lithuanian Consul General. They will also visit the University of Southern California, and tour the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. On Monday, foreign trade policy will be discussed with the President of World Trade Center Los Angeles Stephen Cheung, and Deputy Mayor of International Affairs, Ambassador Nina Hachigian.
On Tuesday, the visit will continue in Washington, with meetings in the Congress and the Department of State. “As emissaries of a parliamentary republic, we want to tighten our cooperation with the Congress, which is why we have scheduled meetings with the Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Europe Subcommittee Senator Ron Johnson, and Co-chair of the Helsinki Commission Roger F. Wicker,” said Mihkelson.
Mihkelson will present the Report on the Air Defence in the Baltic States to officials of the Congress together with Sven Sakkov, the Director of the International Centre for Defence and Security.
The visit will last until next Thursday. The delegation also includes members of the Committee Maire Aunaste, Barbi Pilvre and Henn Põlluaas.
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