Latvia praises US role for security in Baltic region

RIGA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis, in his meeting with US counterpart Chuck Hagel, praised the U. S. for its role in strengthening the Baltic states' security, a spokeswoman of the defense ministry said on Friday.

Vejonis thanked the U. S. for its support, including deployment of soldiers to the Baltic region during the Ukrainian conflict and noted the importance of allied forces stay in the region in the long-term.

Hagel noted the U.S. commitment in the field of defense and security and that Latvia and other Baltic countries can rely on the U.S.

Latvian defense ministry on Thursday discolsed its plan to open during the summer a NATO-backed communication centre in Riga.

Latvia also plans to double its expenses on defense from the NATO recommended minimum of 2 percent of GDP by 2020.