Visa-lifting for the Romanians travelling to the United States, the economic and defence cooperation between Romania and the U.S. and the neighbourhood policy of the European Union and NATO are topics on the agenda of the visit that Romanian Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu will pay to the U.S. on May 6-9.
‘I’d like us to focus the dialogue on concrete bilateral issues in Romania’s relation with the U.S. I think we have reached a pretty advanced maturity stage that enables us to propose common projects not only in the political-defence area, but in the economic area as well’, Diaconescu said.
He announced he would also ask for Romania to be included in the Visa Waiver programme.
‘It is high time we discussed – on a bilateral level including – the issue of visa-lifting and the manner in which the exceptional political relations between our two countries can be materialised in such a decision’, the minister stressed.
‘I believe Romania has made sufficient progress on significantly curbing the rate of the rejection of the visa applications so as to be able to consider gaining results’, he added.
The agenda of the talks between Diaconescu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton includes several issues relating the immediate neighbourhood – Western Balkans, Middle East – and the promotion of certain concrete aspects of such a partnership.
On the evaluation of the circumstances in the Republic of Moldova, the Romanian foreign minister pointed out that ‘the European Union’s and the North Atlantic Alliance’s neighbourhood features very high on the agenda of the discussions in the Congress and as part of other contacts’.
During the visit, Diaconescu will sign a Cooperation Agreement on criminal issues between the two states and will meet members of the U.S. Congress, of the Foreign Policy Committee and of Helsinki Commission.
He is also scheduled to meet Department of Defence officials and to attend two sessions of reports at the Marshall Foundation and the Atlantic Council respectively.
On the other hand, Diaconescu said he would not meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who will also be visiting Washington on May 7.
Diaconescu said in a recent interview that the Strategic Partnership with the U.S. is a plank and a constant element of the Romanian foreign and security policy.
‘In 2009, the cooperation with the new Washington administration is fundamental to keeping the excellent level of the bilateral political dialogue on all levels, by deepening the agenda of economic issues and social relations, but also to strengthening the EU-U.S. relationship and the trans- Atlantic cohesion on the whole’, he said.
In a televised interview in January, Diaconescu said Romania would keep on being a very important partner for the U.S., not only in this region but on a global level too.
George W. Bush was the last U.S. President to visit Romania, on the occasion of the NATO Summit hosted by Bucharest on April 2-4, 2008. Bush had bilateral meetings with Romanian President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, with the talks focusing on the phase in the bilateral relation, NATO enlargement, Afghanistan, the anti-missile shield, Iraq, the Black Sea, Russia, the economic cooperation and the Visa Waiver programme for the Romanian citizens.
President Traian Basescu paid a visit to Washington on July 26-28, 2006, when he had meetings with President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert and members of the Romanian caucus in the U.S. Congress.The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen the intensified political dialogue and the strategic partnership between Romania and the United States.
The last visit paid by a Romanian foreign minister to the U.S. was by Adrian Cioroianu on June 13, 2007, when he met U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.