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Barak Obama to visit Estonia to reassure Baltic allies

IANS 16 Aug 2014, 7:38:18 AM IST
Washington: President Barack Obama will travel to Estonia in September for a visit aimed at reaffirming US commitment to its Baltic allies amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the White House said on Friday.

During his stay, Obama will meet President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Prime Minister Taavi Roivas to discuss bilateral ties, strategic and regional cooperation, and commitment of the two countries to the trans-Atlantic partnership, Xinhua quoted National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden as saying.

Obama will also meet two other Baltic presidents -- Latvia's Andris Berzins and Lithuania's Dalia Grybauskaite -- to discuss cooperation on regional security, economic growth and collective defence, Hayden said.

This trip is a chance to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to Article V as the foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), said Hayden, adding that the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe in light of recent developments in Ukraine.

After visiting Estonia, Obama will proceed to Britain to attend a NATO summit, Hayden added.

Ukraine has intensified its offensive against the rebels since mid-July after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in insurgent-controlled Donetsk region, which killed all 298 people on board.

Ukraine plunged into chaos in late February after the ouster of the previous pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Pro-Russian regions in Ukraine, mainly in the east, protested against the interim government, which is pro-West.

The Black Sea Crimean peninsula had broken away from Ukraine and joined Russia, leading to tension between the two countries in following months.