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Lithuanian Minister of National Defence met with US Secretary of Defence

On Tuesday, 15 March, in Washington DC, Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Gediminas Kirkilas met with US Secretary of Defence Donald H. Rumsfeld. During the meeting US Secretary of Defence D. Rumsfeld thanked the Lithuanian Minister of Defence for the participation of Lithuanian troops in the US-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and underlined his great appreciation for Lithuania's responsibility to be in the lead of a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.  On his turn, Minister G. Kirkilas thanked the US Secretary of Defence for the US leadership in supporting Lithuania's bid to join NATO and for the ongoing US military support. G. Kirkilas underlined Lithuania's willingness to contribute to the spread of freedom and democracy in Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Ukraine and other countries along with the US and other allies. While recognising the US importance in enhancing democracy in the Ukraine, Gediminas Kirkilas invited the US Secretary of Defence to take part in the US-Ukraine consultations, which are scheduled to take place in the autumn later this year in Vilnius.  While underscoring the significance of the NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic States, G. Kirkilas expressed his pleasure that from October to December the air-policing mission will be taken over by US military personnel. The officials also discussed NATO transformation; prospects of operations in Iraq after the Iraqi Government have taken over responsibility for Iraqi security and an issue related to the arms embargo to China.   During the meeting much focus was attached on Lithuania's preparations to lead a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. " We greatly appreciate a significant US support which is of particular importance in making the mission a success, " said G. Kirkilas.  On Tuesday, 15 March the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence also met with a member of the US House of Representatives, congressman John Shimkus, President of the National Defence University, Lieutenant General Michael M. Dunn and took part in a round table discussion with the university training panel.   Later in the evening a reception was given in honour of the Minister at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuanian to the United States of America. The reception was attended by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, US senior military officers, foreign defence attaches accredited to Washington DC.  On Wednesday, 16 March, G. Kirkilas and him accompanying delegation will visit Norfolk, NATO Allied Command Transformation and will meet with its Commander, Admiral Edmund Giambastiani. After his visit to the US, Minister Gediminas Kirkilas will leave for Luxembourg, where he will take part in an informal meeting of EU Ministers of Defence.  During the visit, the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence is accompanied by Ministry's Undersecretary Renatas Norkus, Commander of the Defence Staff, Brigadier General Vitalijus Vaiksnoras.                                
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