Prime Minister Victor Ponta begins official visit to U.S. on Monday

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Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta begins an official three-day visit to the United States on Monday, being scheduled to meet World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, congressmen and executives of U.S. companies ExxonMobil, Chevron, Motorola, IBM and HP.

"Our objectives are to reaffirm the political and military strategic partnership and the prospects for cooperation in the period ahead, but also the economic partnership, since the visit also has an important economic side, namely meetings with the representatives of the major companies having already invested in Romania or possibly have investment plans; I am speaking of three important fields: energy, IT and the modern equipment and engineering industry. We will also have meetings at the Congress with those representatives directly tasked with modifying the legislation that will, in the future, allow Romania to be included in the Visa Waiver programme', the prime minister had said at Victoria Palace (the Govt's offices) on Friday.

Another important side of the visit, Ponta added, is represented by the cultural and educational exchanges and he underscored the Government, in this respect, had on Friday approved a memorandum on continuing Fulbright scholarship programmes.

The prime minister will be accompanied by the ministers of energy, foreign affairs, environment and education on his official visit to the U.S.

"I think it is very important and strategic for Romania to keep, to consolidate and to offer a future prospect to our special relation, to our strategic partnership with the United States of America. I wish that the Romanian state representatives should, from now on, have as close as possible relations, over as short as possible periods of time, with the official representatives of the U.S. state", he said.

Ponta underscored it is for the first time in 10 years that a Romanian prime minister goes on such a visit.

He announced he will meet ExxonMobil, Chevron, Motorola, IBM and HP executives on Monday, followed by two meetings with the state secretaries for commerce and energy.

The highlights of the prime minister's visit to the U.S. will take place on Tuesday, when he is scheduled to meet Vice President Biden and the World Bank president.

Ponta on Wednesday will attend a ceremony for signing the cooperation agreement with the Holocaust Museum and will discuss the Visa Waiver programme with American congressmen.

He underscored that there will be no businessmen in the Romanian official delegation accompanying him to Washington. The visit is organized by the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry and the U.S. Department of State, he added.

When asked whether he is considering the possibility of meeting U.S. President Barack Obama too, the premier explained that the meeting level is president-to-president and since the United States does not have a prime minister, he will meet Vice President Joe Biden.

As regards reports that the U.S. troops could use a military base in Romania as an intermediary point in their pull-out from Afghanistan, Ponta explained there already is an extremely advanced level of cooperation as regards the missile shield, the multi-purpose jets to be procured by the Romanian Army under a contract signed this year and the collaboration agreement on using the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base. "I will communicate you any other subsequent agreements that are not governed by confidentiality", the prime minister said.

Ponta announced he will stop over in Brussels on his way back home from the U.S.. "The schedule for Brussels (stop-over) is to be confirmed", he added.AGERPRES

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