FOREIGN MINISTER LINKEVICIUS: We really appreciate very much (inaudible) partnership with United States, and recently to Vilnius (inaudible), and now visit of Secretary to Vilnius, it’s really proved that we (inaudible) on very good foundation and we will continue. We share the same values and democratic principles, and we have the same issues. So we try to do our parts in the agenda (inaudible) in nuclear nonproliferation, in energy security, cyber security, all issues where we really can continue contribute, not maybe with big quantities, but we will try to do that (inaudible).
Also appreciate very much support of Secretary for Eastern Partnership Program, which is really crucial, and (inaudible) November we will be hosting here the presidency summit of Eastern Partnership. Not every country happy with that choice, choice for our partners to choose this European path, but we do appreciate the support of Secretary of United States in this endeavor.
Also, as the presidency of the Council of European Union, we also play our role, we do our part in order to strengthen EU and U.S. dialogue in a lot of issues to be done on the table – just to mention (inaudible) trade agreement which would be very important both – for both sides. For European Union and for United States, we can say that it would boost our economies, which we can grow 4 or 5 percent from both sides. And really it can help condition to set new rules for world trade even.
So perspectives are good and we will do our part to make it really to possible and move forward. But I won’t take more time because I have no doubt you would like to listen to the Secretary. Welcome again.
SECRETARY KERRY: Oh no, no. Thank you. (Laughter.)
Well, thank you very much, Linas. It’s a great privilege and a pleasure for me to be able to be here in Vilnius, although for a very, very short time. It’s an amazingly beautiful day, and I was just commenting to my friend Linas how much this weather right now in the early part of fall reminds me of Boston, Massachusetts. Makes me feel a little homesick.
But I’m very, very grateful to the Foreign Minister for his friendship. He and I have met previously. We had the privilege of signing an important agreement between our countries with respect to nuclear smuggling. We have an enormously cooperative relationship.
And the story of the journey of Lithuania is a really amazing story. Back in 1992 when the United States first began to work together with our friends here, the banking system didn’t exist. It was very difficult to even pay people. It was an enormous transformation into democracy and freedom and a free economic set of choices. And the journey of Lithuania through that has been really quite remarkable. Now a major NATO partner, now the presidency of the EU is being filled by the Foreign Minister and Lithuania. They did a terrific job today of hosting European ministers here in Vilnius.
We are very grateful for the statement that came out of the meeting today with respect to Syria, a strong statement about the need for accountability, and I’m particularly grateful for the President’s comments to me earlier this morning and the Foreign Minister’s support for the efforts to hold the Assad regime accountable for what it has done.
Now, there are other big issues that we are working on together. The European Eastern Partnership is a very important economic plan that will raise the standards of doing business, increase the trade and most importantly increase jobs. It’s good for the economic development. And we talked about how that can continue to expand, and we are committed to working with Lithuania in an effort to help and move that forward. And I will have conversations with Foreign Minister Hague in England about ways in which we can all join together to try to do that.
We also want to thank our Lithuanian friends for their extraordinary support in global challenges – climate change, energy independence, sustainability, and also something as important as what we’ve been doing in Afghanistan. Lithuania was the smallest country to lead a reconstruction team, a provincial reconstruction team, and it did so with great distinction. We worked with them. They just recently turned that over to the Afghans, and today I was able to present a flag of the United States, which your commander gave us, that flew over that reconstruction forward operating base. We’re grateful for that kind of cooperation.
So it’s nice for me to be able to be here and share a moment with you to talk about these things.
FOREIGN MINISTER LINKEVICIUS: May I just come back briefly on Syria?
SECRETARY KERRY: Yes.
FOREIGN MINISTER LINKEVICIUS: In addition to what was said. Yeah, we are very happy that we reached common understanding on Syria – all ministers. But let me add from my perspective from my country that we do appreciate the active role of U.S. in this because we cannot stand aside. And I would say that really more and more evidence that Assad’s regime is behind all these crimes, I would say. And really we cannot just ignore this. We really should make sure that it will not be continued, that we will try all efforts to prevent further use of chemical weapons. It’s not acceptable. Those responsible should be brought to the justice.
And it’s very important to appreciate that we will make full use of UN capacities (inaudible) and ultimately political decision is very important for this. And also very important to address humanitarian situation in the country, what we also committed to do, and this is also in the statement which was issued by 11 countries. And we do support that statement. We do support these views, which were well-reflected, also it’s along our thinking, and let me reiterate this once again. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Linas. Appreciate it. Thank you, sir. Thank you all very, very much.