Update: Iohannis-Trump joint press conference at the White House. US President praises Romania as true ally

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For the first time for a Romanian President at the White House, Klaus Iohannis held a joint conference with US President Donald Trump after the official talks the two held in Washington on Friday, with the American president praising Romania as a ‘true ally’ and saying the bilateral strategic partenership is ‘great.’

“It is an honor to have you here, a true ally, a wonderful country and a great relationship,” said Donald Trump, at the beginning of the meeting with Klaus Iohannis.

Romanian President  Iohannis answered it is an honor to be at the White House. “It is a great pleasure and an honor to be here and I’m looking forward to discussions on our Partnership,” said President Iohannis, with Donald Trump replying: “Yes, a great Partnership”.

Moreover, during the press conference, President Trump voiced the USA support for the anti-corruption fight in Romania and for Klaus Iohannis when asked to comment the anti-corruption enterprises under way in Bucharest.

We support very strongly Romania, and therefore we obviously do support the anti-corruption fight. And we support your president. We think he’s done an outstanding job, he is very popular, very solid, working very hard. We know everything that is going on and yes, he ‘s going to win that fight, and he has our support,” Trump stated.

It’s an honour to welcome such a good friend of America at the White House. The people of Romania and America share much in commom a love for freedon, proud cultures, rich traditions. The relation between the two countries stretches way over a century, but today we especially celebrate and reaffirm our strategic partnership that began more than 20 years ago,” Trump pointed out.

According to the American president, the partnership with Romania covers many dimensions, including economical, military cultural ties. “Today we are making these ties even stronger,” he stressed.

Trump also thanked Romania for everything ‘it contributed to our common defense and to the fight against the evil menace of terrorism’. “They have their own difficulties with it, they’ve come a long way and they are doing a lot. Romania has been a valuable member of the coalition to defeat ISIS and is the 4th largest contributor of troops in Afghanistan”, US President stated, adding that American honors the sacrifice of the Romanian soldiers who died there.

Trump commits to Article 5

At the same time, the US President has explicitly recommited America to NATO’s mutual defense provision, entailed by Article 5. “Well, I’m commiting  the United States and have committed, but I’m commiting the United States to article 5,” Trump answered  a Romanian reporter’s question, underlining that “the US is here to protect and we are paying the money to have that force”.

Reference to Qatar issue

Trump said that Iohannis visit comes at a very crucial moment not only for the strategic partnership but also for the world, referring to terrorism and the recent issue on Qatar. “So we have a decision to make: do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided with secretary Tillerson to ask Qatar to end that funding,” President Trump spoke out.

Iohannis: Romania relies on the US partnership on the Eastern flank

In his turn, President Klaus Iohannis said during the joint conference that Romania relies on the Partnership with the USA in what regards the Eastern Flank.

Romania is very aware of the fact that we stand on the Eastern Flank and we heavily rely on your Partnership, President Trump, because we cannot stand there without the US, we cannot stand there alone, on the other hand, our partnership has a huge opportunity to step up, not only in security matters, but also in commercial and economic matters, and this is very important. Romania is a member of the European Union and I think it’s the best interest of you, Mr. President, to have a strong European Union as a partner“, the Romanian President stated, reminding that Romania was the first country under Trump’s mandate to increase the expenses on military to 2 pc cent of the GDP.

According to Iohannis, the  Romanian-American relations and the transatlantic link are vital.

The transatlantic link is not about diplomacy, about policy, it’s at the basis of our Western civilization. Together we will make it stronger, together we will make it better. NATO and the European Union do not have to compete against each other, they have to work together, they have to work in such a manner as to produce synergetic effects, make NATO stronger, make Europe stronger, make the United States of America stronger,” Iohannis argued.

In his view, enhancing the Strategic Partnership will prompt to higher commercial trade.

Asked by the journalists if the actions of Russia should cause concern, Klaus Iohannis stated that everybody is concerned with what Russia is doing and that dialogue is needed for a feasible solution.

Everybody is concerned, but you see, being concerned should lead you to being prepared, so in my opinion, we have to be very clear, very simple, and very straightforward if we talk about Russia and with Russia. In my opinion, we need dialogue, but on the other hand, we need what we all together decided in NATO, a strong deterrence. So this combination — strong deterrence and dialogue — should lead to a solution which is feasible for every part,” said the head of state.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was received on Friday at the White House by Donald Trump, at 14:00 local hour (21:00 Romania’s time). Iohannis had tête-à-tête talks with Donald Trump for about ten minutes and after that official talks.

Earlier in the day, the Romanian Presidential Administration announced that there will be a joint press statement delivered by the two presidents at the White House at 21:45 (Romania’s time), which is a first for a Romanian President at the White House.

The meeting with the US President was followed by a meeting with the head of the US diplomacy, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, at the Department of State’s HQs.

A day ago, President Iohannis told journalists that people have high expectations from his meeting with Donald Trump. „It’s an extremely important meeting, and people have high expectations, and for good reason. I would like very much to have a first very good contact with President Trump. I want to convince him that together we should make our partenership more solid, more profound,” the Romanian head of state said.

According to Iohannis, the talks’ agenda will include topics related to the security on the Eastern flank and related to economic issues. We still need American investors coming to Romania, Klaus Iohannis stated. „The meeting will definitely go well and I am convinced that we’ll manage to tackle all major topics on our agendas,” he added.

US congressmen voice support for Romania’s joining the Visa Waiver programme

President Klaus Iohannis met senators and members of the United States House of Representatives on Thursday, discussing about extending the Romanian-US Strategic Partnership and about Romania’s inclusion in the Visa Waiver programme.

The Presidential Administration informed that both the senators and the members of the House of Representatives have assured President Iohannis that they support visas lifting for Romania, stating that there is a bi-partisan working group that makes every effort to find solutions that, within the limits of current U.S. legislation, could simplify the accession procedure to this programme.

‘Romania is the best partner that the US can have’

At the same time, Iohannis decorated five members of the U.S. Congress with the National Order of the Star of Romania. Thus, Michael Turner, Co-Chair of the Romanian Caucus in the United States Congress, Devin Nunes, Chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Jackie Walorski and Robert Aderholt, members of the Romanian Caucus were decorated for their constant efforts made to support the deepening of the bilateral strategic partnership between Romania and the USA.

Klaus Iohannis stated during the awarding ceremony the Romania is the best partner that the USA can have.

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