SECRETARY BLINKEN: Hello, everyone. It’s a particular pleasure to have Foreign Minister Aurescu here. Bogdan, welcome to the State Department. The United States and Romania are very stalwart allies and partners in NATO. We have a strategic partnership. And in fact, we’ll be having our Strategic Dialogue tomorrow, and that’s evidence of the fact that across so many issues our countries are working very closely together.
We stand together when it comes to the some of the challenges posed by Russia and in different ways China. We stand together for European security and stability and progress. And we stand together in many different areas as well. We just recently concluded an agreement to deploy the first small modular nuclear reactor in Romania. This is groundbreaking technology that can have a very important impact on meeting the challenge posed by climate change, so we’re grateful for that. And of course, we’re working together to meet the challenge posed by COVID-19, which is having a very difficult impact on Romania, as it’s had here in the United States, but we are joined together in those efforts.
So we have a lot to discuss. Our teams have a lot to discuss over the next day. It’s very good to have you. Welcome.
FOREIGN MINISTER AURESCU: Well, thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, dear Tony. It’s a great pleasure for me to be back to Washington for a substantial round of political consultations between us that’s also marking the opening of a new session of our Strategic Dialogue to take place tomorrow. My visit and the Strategic Dialogue come at the right moment and have symbolic value because this year we celebrate 10 years —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: That’s right.
FOREIGN MINISTER AURESCU: — since the adoption of the Joint Declaration on the Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century and since the conclusion of the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement between our countries. And for me personally, they have a special significance since I was the chief negotiator for these two documents.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I remember it well.
FOREIGN MINISTER AURESCU: And moreover, next year, 2022, will mark the 25th anniversary of the launching of our strategic partnership. And all these moments will remind us that we have to be more determined and more ambitious to deepen and broaden our strategic partnership. So we have achieved a lot, but we are not stopping here. These consultations will have a lot of very important topics of our agenda, important for our bilateral but also multilateral coordination.
First, we will discuss about how to deepen our excellent political and security cooperation while emphasizing the importance of close coordination for the negotiation of the new strategic concept of NATO, for consolidating further the deterrence and defense posture on the whole eastern flank, especially at the Black Sea —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yep.
FOREIGN MINISTER AURESCU: — and also for increasing the U.S. presence in the region and also in Romania.
Second, we’ll discuss about the cooperation on economy and energy, and I will mention the need for more U.S. investment and involvement in the region, including in strategic interconnection project such as Rail-2-Sea or Via Carpathia. You mentioned the nuclear cooperation, and I think it’s growing. It’s becoming another pillar of our strategic partnership, not only Cernavoda but also the small module reactor program. I’ll mention the OECD accession, and thank you, Tony, for the U.S. support for the enlargement of the organization.
And last but not least, I will also mention the very important objective for the Romanian people, which is Romania’s accession to the Visa Waiver Program, and I hope we’ll be able to find a concrete means to advance on this very important file. Not to mention that we are very much supportive of the U.S. efforts to rally the world democracies around the goal of democratic renewal and resilience during the incoming Summit for Democracy, including in Romania’s capacity as president of the Community of Democracies.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yes.
FOREIGN MINISTER AURESCU: And I’ll reiterate today and I will – I am doing this right now – Romania’s strong support for the transatlantic partnership and for the transatlantic strategic resilience, because I think they are key for lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Europe and on – in the entire globe.
Mr. Secretary, dear Tony, the United States can count on Romania as one of your strongest allies and partners in Europe and the transatlantic level. I’m looking forward to the discussions today. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: And Romania can count on the United States. Thank you, Bogdan. Come on.
FOREIGN MINISTER AURESCU: Thank you.