(above photo of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Latvia's Foreign Minister E.Rinkevics at Latvia's Freedom Monument: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
On June 28, 2012 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Latvia, making Latvia the 100th country she has visited as Secretary of State; no other U.S. Secretary of State has visited more than 96 countries. Hillary Clinton also visited Latvia together with her husband, (former) President Bill Clinton, in 1994.
During her visit Secretary Clinton met with President Andris Bçrziòð, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkçviès. At a forum at the University of Latvia Secretary Clinton met with students and NGO leaders.
The Secretary also participated in a ceremony renaming the street in front of the new U.S. Embassy in honor of former Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles. In 1940, Sumner Welles issued the Welles Declaration, in which the U.S. did not recognize the Soviet Union's takeover of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. During the street-naming dedication, Secretary Clinton noted that the continuous Latvia-U.S. diplomatic relations over a 90-year period testifies to the continuity of the strategic partnership between both countries that even the long years of Soviet occupation could not break.
Secretary Clinton stated: "As World War II progressed, many argued that we (the U.S.) should recognize Stalin’s conquest of the Baltic States. But Welles didn’t give in. He believed that the U.S. needed to stand firm on the principles of sovereignty and self-government for those nations under both Nazi and Soviet control. The Welles Declaration was more than just a symbolic show of support. From 1940 until the Soviet Union ended its occupation, the United States never recognized Soviet control of Latvia.
Back at the State Department in Washington, we hang the flags of all the countries with which the United States has a diplomatic relationship. And for 51 years, as the hammer and sickle flew overhead here in Riga, we never took down the maroon and white stripes of the Latvian flag. Through the alliances of World War II, in the darkest hours of the Cold War, at countless bargaining tables where American and Soviet leaders struggled to solve problems, our commitment to the sovereignty of the Latvian people never wavered."