Vīķe-Freiberga set to visit United States

In what may be her final trip to the United States as Latvia’s president, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga will visit the nation’s capital and the state of Kentucky from May 1-6, her press office has announced.

Vīķe-Freiberga’s visit will begin with a half-hour May 1 meeting with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

That evening, she will participate in an event marking the 85th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Latvia and the United States. During the ceremony, the president will present Latvian state honors to a number of individual, including former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzeziński and Karl Altau, managing director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee.

The president’s schedule for May 2 includes meetings with Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives; Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate’s majority leader, and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.

Vīķe-Freiberga remains in Washington, D.C., on May 3, meeting with representatives of The Atlantic Council and participating in an Internet videoconference with students from the council. That evening, she will participate in the 101st annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee, during which she will be presented the Madeline and Bruce Ramer Award for Diplomatic Excellence. Vīķe-Freiberga also is scheduled to address the meeting and to present the Order of Three Stars to David Harris, executive director of the AJC.

On May 4, the president heads west to Kentucky, home state of the U.S. ambassador to Latvia, Catherine Todd Bailey. Vīķe-Freiberga is expected to meet with Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher in Frankfort as well as with Louisville business leaders.

On May 5, Vīķe-Freiberga is expected to tour the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville. The president also is scheduled to take in the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs.

Before returning to Latvia on May 6, Vīķe-Freiberga is scheduled to meet at 11:30 a.m. with members of the Latvian community in Louisville.

The Latvian parliament first elected Vīķe-Freiberga as president of Latvia in 1999 and re-elected her in 2003. Her term in office ends in July.

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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