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U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, Foreign Minister Aurescu discuss defense, energy, 5G cooperation

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu met on Monday in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, with the top foreign affairs officials tackling, among others, Romania's commitment to continue strategic investments in Defense, and energy and economic cooperation between the two states, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release, acording to AGERPRES.

The sides deepened the discussions regarding the assessment of the stage and the prioritization of the projects of common interest for the next period, having in view the goal of extending and deepening bilateral cooperation in 2021, which marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Joint Declaration on the Romania - U.S. Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century.

Minister Aurescu and the U.S. Secretary of State agreed on beginning preparations for the organization in Washington, in the first part of 2021, of the seventh session of bilateral Strategic Dialogue.

Regarding military cooperation, the Romanian Minister welcomed the joint efforts to strengthen the defense and deterrence posture on NATO's eastern flank and stressed the need for strengthening cohesion on this flank while removing approach disparities between its North and South, with a focus on the Black Sea region as a region of strategic importance for transatlantic security. He reiterated Romania's commitment to continue strategic investments in Defense and compliance with allied commitments in terms of equitable burden-sharing.

ForMin Aurescu welcomed the recent delivery of Patriot systems to Romania and the signing of the 10-year Roadmap for defense, as well as the U.S. intention to increase its military force on the territory of Romania, and reiterated our country's interest in an enhanced military presence in Romania.

Regarding the development of the economic and energy dimensions of the Strategic Partnership, the two officials discussed priorities and concrete steps following the recent approval and initialing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the expansion and modernization of Romania's civilian nuclear energy program, as well as of the signing of a memorandum of understanding that provides for the Import-Export Bank of the United States to identify financing possibilities, especially for energy and infrastructure projects.

The Romanian Minister also highlighted Romania's efforts for strengthening interconnectivity between northern and southern Central Europe, as a strategic objective in the process of recovering and increasing the economic resilience of the European Union.

In this regard, Minister Bogdan Aurescu evoked the importance of the two major regional interconnection projects, Rail-2-Sea and Via Carpatia, promoted by Romania, including within the Three Seas Initiative, with a direct strategic impact, including on military mobility. Aurescu called for the U.S. getting involved, including financially, in the implementation of these projects, stressing the need for a strong U.S. economic and investment presence to grow along with the enhanced U.S. military presence in the region.

At the same time, the two officials exchanged views on energy security, highlighting the relevance of Romania's Black Sea gas reserves for regional security, as well as progress in the BRUA project and the completion at the end of July 2020 of the gas interconnector between Romania and Moldova (through the Ungheni - Chisinau section of the Iasi - Ungheni - Chisinau gas pipeline), which currently ensures the connection of the Moldovan and the European natural gas market through Romania.

Aurescu underlined the importance of starting as soon as possible, with U.S. participation, the exploitation of the gas resources in the Romanian continental shelf in order to ensure the energy independence of Romania, the Republic of Moldova and other states in the region.

With regard to cyber security, the Minister of Foreign Affairs pointed to the steps to avoid the security risks associated with 5G telecommunication networks and mentioned that the Romanian authorities are preparing an adequate legislative framework, which will allow the rigorous evaluation of all providers.

Regarding Romania's prospect of joining the Visa Waiver Program, Minister Aurescu stressed during the meeting the importance of facilitating direct contacts between citizens and business communities, especially by Romania's accession to this program; the sides agreed to continue further cooperation and coordination on this subject in order to achieve this common goal, including by creating a dedicated bilateral working group.

In his turn, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the solidity and substance of the Strategic Partnership with Romania, pointing out that for the United States, Romania is a reliable ally and a pillar of stability in the region.

The two also proceeded to an assessment of the security situation in the Black Sea region, on which Romania and the U.S. share common visions, with the American Secretary of State reiterating the U.S. support for Romania's accession to the OECD.

ForMin Aurescu also presented an assessment on the situation in the Republic of Moldova and reaffirmed Romania's consistent position as a supporter of the European track of this country, as the only option capable of ensuring its economic and social development for the direct benefit of its citizens. The two officials agreed that the United States and Romania should closely coordinate on this issue.

Minister Aurescu also presented his American counterpart a selection of copies of historical documents that marked the evolution of the 140 years of Romanian-American diplomatic relations.

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