Dusa: US troops pulling out of Afghanistan to pass through Kogalniceanu base, Constanta Port.
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta starts today an official visit to the United States, with the agenda of the visit featuring meetings with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, the state secretaries for energy and commerce as well as executives of U.S. companies ExxonMobil, Chevron, Motorola, IBM and HP. “I think it is very important and strategic for Romania to keep, to consolidate and to offer a future prospect to our special relation, to our strategic partnership with the United States of America”, Ponta said at Victoria Palace (the Govt’s offices) on Friday , underscoring it is for the first time in 10 years that a Romanian prime minister goes on such a visit. “Our objectives are to reaffirm the political and military strategic partnership and the prospects for cooperation in the period ahead, but also the economic partnership, since the visit also has an important economic side, namely meetings with the representatives of the major companies having already invested in Romania or possibly have investment plans; I am speaking of three important fields: energy, IT and the modern equipment and engineering industry. We will also have meetings at the Congress with those representatives directly tasked with modifying the legislation that will, in the future, allow Romania to be included in the Visa Waiver programme”, he added. The prime minister will be accompanied by the Romanian ministers of energy, foreign affairs, environment and education, Ponta adding that there will be no businessmen in the Romanian official delegation. “On returning from this visit, we can consider that the relations between the United States of America and Romania keep the positive direction of the last years and that this strategic partnership produces its beneficial effects for both parties”, Ponta stressed. When asked whether he is considering the possibility of meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama too, the premier explained that the meeting level is president-to-president and since the United States do not have a prime minister, he will meet Vice President Joe Biden. PM Ponta also said that he did not ask President Basescu for a mandate to go to U.S., as he would discuss governmental topics.
As regards reports that the U.S. troops could use a military base in Romania as an intermediary point in their pull-out from Afghanistan, Ponta explained there already is an extremely advanced level of cooperation as regards the missile shield, the multi-purpose jets to be procured by the Romanian Army under a contract signed this year and the collaboration agreement on using the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base. “I will communicate you any other subsequent agreements that are not governed by confidentiality”, the prime minister said.
In an interview for B1TV, President Basescu told on Friday that the agreement in principle was given for the repatriation of troops and military hardware from Afghanistan, of the U.S. Army, to be made through Romania, context in which he mentioned that the visit Prime Minister Victor Ponta is to pay to the United States must be seen in a positive way.
The agreement has already been discussed at Pentagon on Thursday and Friday, during the Romanian National Defence Minister’s official visit to the United States. “I discussed (with U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel – editor’s note) about the way that we can cooperate next year with respect to the multi-modal transport, namely that way that we will operate at Kogalniceanu base and Constanta Port, given that as the troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, we have given our agreement in principle that the Kogalniceanu Airport traffic should increase and that we should make available the capabilities there for the return of the U.S. troops and military capabilities back to the United States”, Dusa told Agerpes on Saturday.