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Latvian leader urges democratic nations to 'band ever closer together' against Russia during Minnesota trip

Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš met with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday ahead of a six-day Latvian song and dance festival in St. Paul.

Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, the Prime Minister of Latvia,
Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, speaks to reporters at the Minnesota Capitol about the geopolitical climate in his country, as well as efforts to forge new alliances with Minnesota, during the first-ever visit to the state by a Latvian head of government.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — During a visit to the Minnesota Capitol Wednesday, June 29, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš urged continued support from the U.S. and other nations in defending against additional attacks from Russia.

“It is important that as the world becomes more dangerous in some ways that we like-minded peoples band ever closer together," Krišjānis Kariņš said during a news conference.

Krišjānis Kariņš, along with a group of dignitaries from the eastern European nation that borders Russia, is in Minnesota this week for a six-day Latvian song and dance festival in St. Paul. It's the first visit of a Latvian head of government to Minnesota.

Krišjānis Kariņš voiced his support for NATO actions this week to bolster defenses at the eastern borders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Poland. He also thanked President Joe Biden for committing to ramp up the U.S. military presence in the region.

The reinvigorated alliance between NATO member nations could also help to build up business and cultural opportunities between the United States and Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš said, including opportunities to work with Minnesota.

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Krišjānis Kariņš and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday morning met to discuss the geopolitical situation due to the war in Ukraine, as well as potential business development opportunities between Latvia and Minnesota. He said that during the meeting, he invited Walz to put together a delegation of entrepreneurs, professors and other leaders to travel to Latvia on a trade mission to evaluate possible growth options there.

Ironically for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the war in Ukraine forged a stronger alliance among NATO states in opposition to the Russian government, Krišjānis Kariņš said. That could spur other benefits down the road.

“The interesting outcome of Putin’s war in Ukraine is that he made the Baltics a much safer investment," Krišjānis Kariņš said.

Walz administration spokeswoman Claire Lancaster said the governor was honored to meet with the prime minister and Latvian delegation and "looks forward to continuing their partnership to expand trade and protect democracy."

Thousands of people of Latvian heritage are expected to participate in the 15th Latvian Song and Dance Festival this weekend .

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Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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