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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Eva-Maria, it’s a pleasure to welcome you here to the State Department, to Washington.  We have a – marked a year that I think is significant because this year actually marks 100 years of diplomatic relations between Estonia and the United States.  But we are very much focused not only on that but on the present and the work that we’re doing together with Estonia, a very strong partner in NATO, and working together, of course, to support Ukraine, to try to deter Russian aggression, and to continue to strengthen NATO faced with the challenges of the moment.

But beyond that, I look very much forward to talking with the foreign minister about many other aspects of our relationship, and of course we always look to Estonia for insight on technology and the future because Estonia is a remarkably future-oriented country, and we’re just grateful for the partnership that we have.  We have a lot to talk about within the moment that we are all living and the challenges to your security that unfortunately come from Russia’s aggressive posture, but we’ll cover that and much more.

But meanwhile, welcome.  It’s so good to have you here in Washington.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIIMETS:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Secretary Blinken.  (Inaudible) if I may.  Thank you very much for the warm welcome today in Washington, D.C.  I very much look forward to our discussion, of course, about the bilateral relations, our good friendship, but also, of course, the security concerns that we face today in Europe and also what we could do more together to promote democracy, human rights, fundamental values around the globe, but particularly in the Eastern Partnership countries close to Estonia, close to our neighborhood.

Estonia of course is forever thankful to the United States for its nonrecognition policy when Estonia was occupied, and it’s really very unfortunate we see that 30 years after we regained our independence, we face such a severe security crisis in Europe.  And we have been very thankful for your leadership in coping with this current security crisis and truly hope that diplomacy is successful and we can have a peaceful future instead of having more and more (inaudible).

And of course, as we celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations, I think that it’s been a full century behind us and I hope that our close and steadfast friendship continues (inaudible).

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  (Inaudible.)

U.S. Department of State

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