Latvia to host NATO summit soon

NATO will hold its first summit in a former Soviet Republic next year when alliance leaders gather in Latvia, the country's president confirmed Wednesday.

Being selected to host the November summit "is proof of Latvia's full maturity and political weight," Vaira Vike-Freiberga told.

NATO officials in Brussels had said earlier Wednesday that some "technical aspects" remained to be sorted out about the summit, but that an announcement on the venue was expected soon.

The summit was suggested by the United States to drive forward efforts to modernize the NATO alliance and beef up its military capabilities.

The gathering is expected to bring the leaders of NATO's 26 member countries to Latvia's capital, Riga, and would be the largest political event the Baltic country has ever hosted.

The Latvian government has already set aside US$16.67 million from this year's budget to host the event, which is expected to cost around US$25 million. Much of the money will be used to upgrade Riga's infrastructure.

Zanita Ozolina, who chairs a Latvian foreign policy think tank, said she thinks the decision to hold the summit in Riga shows how far the country has advanced, the AP reports.

Photo: The AP


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