C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001121
FOR SECRETARY RUMSFELD FROM AMBASSADOR MULL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/18/2015
TAGS: PGOV LH
SUBJECT: YOUR VISIT TO LITHUANIA
Classified By: Ambassador Stephen D. Mull for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
Â¶1. (C) Mr. Secretary, you will arrive in Lithuania this
weekend with our relations with this small but steadfast ally
at their best level yet. Lithuania supports and participates
in every major U.S. foreign policy initiative. Its
Provincial Reconstruction Team in Chagcharan, Afghanistan --
which President Adamkus and I visited last week -- has made
important strides in ensuring the area's stability and
beginning reconstruction efforts, with extensive U.S.
support. Lithuania's successive governments have expressed
an unwavering and open-ended commitment to our common effort
in Iraq, pledging to keep its 100 troops there as long as
necessary. We have close and tight cooperation with
Lithuania's security forces in fighting the war on terror.
Within the EU, Lithuania has been a stalwart advocate for
stronger transatlantic ties and NATO's primacy in European
security. In its immediate neighborhood, Lithuania has been
an energetic supporter of President Bush's freedom agenda,
from its warm hospitality to Belarus's embattled democrats to
its high intensity mentoring of the militaries and
governments in Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Â¶2. (U) We have already planted the seeds for this close
relationship to grow in future generations. For example,
Lithuania has 10 students currently enrolled in the four U.S.
service academies and 11 alumni -- one of the highest per
capita representations in the world.
Â¶3. (C) On a personal level, President Adamkus is especially
eager to renew your acquaintance, which he said he began
politicking with you in freezing Chicago weather during your
1962 campaign for Congress. Adamkus is an especially strong
asset to our bilateral relationship, intervening at key
points in Lithuania's internal politics to keep its pro-U.S.
foreign policy agenda on track. Thank you especially for
making time on your schedule to see Prime Minister Algirdas
Brazauskas, who has been a more skeptical partner in
supporting Lithuania's growing international military
commitments. Your meeting will undoubtedly shore up his
support and enthusiasm for our military cooperation.
Â¶4. (C) While our relationship is exceptionally smooth and
warm, I wanted to alert you to a number of issues that may
arise during the bilateral portion of your visit here:
The recent crash of an errant Russian SU-27 onto Lithuanian
territory ignited a furious internal debate here about the
adequacy of Lithuania's air defense. Taunts from senior
Russian officials questioning NATO's value during the episode
only intensified the reaction, which included a formal
parliamentary instruction to press for making NATO's interim
air policing of the Baltics permanent. Senior defense
officials have seized on the incident to mount a campaign for
increased defense spending -- in particular, an extra $7
million to fund a major upgrade of Lithuania's air radar
system. During his visit to Lithuania last week, Congressman
Jim Kolbe instructed his staff to begin exploring whether the
U.S. might be able to help in this area. You can be certain
your interlocutors will seek your support for this effort in
We here at the U.S. Mission have pressed the Lithuanian
government to increase defense spending from its current
level of 1.27% of GDP to bring it in line with the 2% NATO
standard. The government is trying to heed the call -- its
draft 2006 budget proposes upping absolute defense spending
by 10.5%, but Lithuania's booming GDP growth of 6-7% per
annum means defense spending as a share of GDP will increase
only to 1.4%. Your support for Lithuania's continuing
efforts to up that figure, particularly in your meeting with
the Prime Minister, would be welcome.
With significant U.S. support, Lithuania's 113 troops on the
ground in Ghor province are doing a terrific job. Our
request that Lithuania assume sustainment costs when the
U.S.-funded contract expires on March 31 has prompted some
Lithuanian apprehension about their ability to pay the bill.
The Lithuanians are exploring whether to revise their
proposed use of Coalition Solidarity Funds to cover the
costs, and may ask you whether there is any possibility of
continued U.S. support with the burden.
Virtually no senior American visitor comes to Lithuania
without getting a question on when Lithuanians will be able
to travel to the United States without visas. President Bush
earlier this year announced a "Visa Waiver Program Roadmap"
for our central and eastern European allies to help them
improve their eligibility for visa-free travel. Lithuania is
an active participant in the program, and we work intensively
with the government here in a public diplomacy campaign to
reduce the number of illegal Lithuanian workers and overstays
in the United States -- the principal reason for Lithuania's
Lithuania has been active far beyond its size in providing
support for democratization in Belarus, and it takes its
responsibility as the NATO contact embassy in Minsk
seriously. But economic interests often collude to pressure
the government to circumvent the ban on contacts with senior
Belarusian officials. Recently, Prime Minister Brazauskas
defied an EU ban on senior level contacts by hosting the
Belarusian Prime Minister to dinner to discuss bilateral
economic issues. If you have the opportunity during the
Brazauskas meeting, I would encourage you to remind him of
the importance of maintaining a united democratic front on
keeping pressure on the Lukashenko regime.
Â¶5. (U) Mr. Secretary, thank you for adding Lithuania to your
busy schedule. We eagerly look forward to supporting your