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Biden pledged U.S. commitment to Romania

  |   Oct. 22, 2009 at 2:40 PM
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BUCHAREST, Romania, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, after meeting with Romania's opposition leaders, reiterated the United States is committed to a strategic partnership.

Biden met with former Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana and opposition leader Kim Antonescu at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Mark Gitenstein before departing Bucharest for Prague, Czech Republic.

"The main message" President Barack Obama wanted communicated to Romanian leaders is that "we are committed to the strategic partnership and relationship," Biden said.

Geoana, who is vying for the Romanian presidency in next month's election, returned the sentiment, saying this is "a time of tremendous change in the world. Friends and allies should stick together. This is a partnership which will continue for decades to come."

During his meetings with dignitaries, Biden expressed thanks to Romanian leaders for the support of the reconfigured missile defense plan advocated by Obama, as well as Romania's leadership role in developing methods for transporting energy in Europe.

At the Central University Library, Biden challenged the country's leaders of today and tomorrow to lead boldly and be prepared to help other democracies-in-waiting, such as Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"Twenty years ago, the world watched in awe and admiration as the men and women of this region broke the shackles of repression and emerged a free people," Biden said. "You were present at the creation of a new Europe, a new security, a new era of peace because you were bold enough to seize that moment. Be like those in '89. Be bold. Exercise your leadership. You have a history and you have a tradition. You can make a gigantic difference and we'll stand with you."

Biden also thanked Romania for its troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Czech Republic is the final stop of Biden's three-country visit that began in Poland.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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