Washington, DC - Vice President Biden met today with Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia Maris Kucinskis in Riga. The Vice President emphasized the unshakable U.S. commitment to the security of the Baltic states and welcomed the steps Latvia is taking to strengthen its national defense, including by increasing defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2018.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of expanding trade and investment ties between the United States and Latvia. The Vice President congratulated the Prime Minister on Latvia’s accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and welcomed Prime Minister Kucinskis’ commitment to continue implementing OECD recommendations, including reform of Latvia’s state-owned enterprises. Underscoring the progress Latvia has made in tightening regulation of its banking sector and cracking down on money laundering, the Vice President encouraged Prime Minister Kucinskis to take further steps to improve Latvia’s investment climate. The Vice President urged comprehensive reform to improve transparency, reduce corruption, and regain public confidence. The Vice President also encouraged Prime Minister Kucinskis to pursue reforms to increase the efficiency and transparency of the judicial system, noting that slow and opaque court proceedings are a significant obstacle to greater investment by U. S. companies in Latvia.