Next ambassador to U.S. is nominated

Latvia’s next ambassador to the United States may be Māris Riekstiņš, replacing Aivis Ronis, whose tour of duty ends this year, according to Latvian media reports. Riekstiņš has served as the state secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1993.

Foreign Affairs Minister Artis Pabriks announced his choice Aug. 31. If confirmed by President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Riekstiņš would become Latvia’s fourth ambassador to the United States since the nation regained independence in 1991.

Riekstiņš, 41, is described as one of the foreign ministry’s most experienced diplomats. He has frequently been involved in matters dealing with the United States and its Latvian community, but has never had the role of ambassador.

Educated at the Latvian Sports Institute and the University of Latvia, Riekstiņš joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1992 and was named state secretary in August 1993, according to the ministry’s Web site. He has been involved in Latvia’s negotiations to joined the NATO defense alliance and the World Trade Organization, as well as the U.S.-Baltic Charter.

Ronis became ambassador in 2000, replacing Ojārs Kalniņš, who returned to Rīga to head the Latvian Institute. Ronis has been offered the post of ambassador to NATO, according to Latvian media reports.

In addition to Latvia’s embassy in Washington, D.C., honorary consuls serve in California, Connecticut, New York, Ohio and Texas.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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