the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release

Remarks By Vice President Biden in a Joint Statement with President Basescu

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, Mr. President, thank you for your hospitality.  You know, diplomats and high-level politicians always walk out of meetings saying, we had a frank and useful discussion.
Well, we did have a frank and very useful discussion, and I appreciate your insight, and I appreciate your leadership.

I am very pleased to be here today with the President in this magnificent palace.  The United States and Romania have been, and continue to be, close allies and partners in NATO.  And the European-Atlantic alliance is something that I know the President, and President -- my President, President Obama, strongly, strongly support.  And we deeply, deeply value Romania's cooperation.

You know, I was telling the -- I was telling the President, he and his country have made me look very good.  I argued very, very strongly that Romania be admitted into NATO on the first round, as you'll remember.  I was -- and I tried to the very end, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.  Now look how smart I was.

The fact of the matter is, all kidding aside, you've been a tremendous partner -- Romania has been.  And it's -- Romania -- as you start this election season, Mr. President, it reminds me of our own intense political campaigns last year.  And this is the type of -- this is the type of competition, healthy competition that's essential, essential to a vibrant democracy.  And I wish you success in your electoral process, and congratulate the remaining people on what is nothing less than a thriving democracy.

We have -- as we approach our 130th anniversary -- 130th anniversary of our diplomatic relationships to Romania, we want to continue to strengthen what I would argue is already a strong partnership, already a strong partnership.

Our relationship is anchored in interests that are of shared values, working together on global threats, human rights, commercial investment, and trade promotion.  It's the full panoply of things that countries who treat each other as equals deal with.  And our cooperation is both bilateral and multi-lateral, both through NATO and the E.U., but also through our bilateral negotiations and relationships.

We serve together in Afghanistan, in the western Balkans, and in Iraq. And I feel obliged to tell the Romanian people how grateful President Obama and I, and the American people, are for the Romanian troops that are in Afghanistan.  Let me say something as clearly as I can, your troops are warriors, they are warriors.  They have no caveats.  Our troops -- and I mean this sincerely, and my son just got back from Iraq after a year as a captain in the United States Army.  Our troops -- our troops are proud to serve next to Romanian troops, because you are incredibly competent.  Your kids -- I wish I could -- I wish you could all see, as I get to see, just how incredibly competent they are.  You should be proud.

And all the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives of those 1,100 Romanians that are stationed in Afghanistan -- I mean this sincerely, as a parent -- thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  There's an old expression attributable to an Englishman. He said, "Those also serve who stand and wait.  Those also serve who stand and wait."  So we not only owe your troops that are deployed, Mr. President, we owe their families.  We genuinely owe them.  And I want to, on behalf of the President of the United States of America, say we appreciate it, and we're proud -- proud to stand next to you and serve with you.

In Afghanistan, your forces are performing skillfully, and in some of the toughest places, the toughest combat.  The United States is grateful for the circus -- service, as well as the sacrifice.  And I want to make one other point as it relates to the strategic side of the relationship.  I really -- with regard to defense, Mr. President, I really appreciate your embrace, and your government's embrace, of the new missile defense architecture that we are introducing into Europe.  There is -- the SM-3 will replace what originally was going to be intended to provide for security.  But it will -- in fact, it is a much better architecture.  It has the benefit of protecting Europe physically, as well as the United States.  And I must tell you I appreciate your almost instant embrace of this new architecture, as well as was embraced by our colleagues in Poland, and others.  As people look at this, they are understanding what you understood from the beginning, that this makes more sense.

We share a desire that -- as well, that Romania's neighbors, including Moldova, will continue along the path toward democratization and economic reform, and that they will be integrated into the Euro-Atlantic institutions when they are ready.  And that's why, as you pointed out, we are participating in helping to hopefully stabilize, economically, Moldova.

And, Mr. President, you and I also discussed energy security issues, the role of Romania and what -- the role you're playing in supporting and developing pipelines, as well as other transit methods to bring new sources of energy to Europe.  I can think of nothing that would be more consequential than that.  And we appreciate your leadership, and the leadership of your country.

And I also would point out that we have an ambassador here -- America, in my view, has sent their best.  But I have to, as we say -- in the United States Senate, there's an expression.  When you stand up on the floor of the Senate, if you're going to talk about something personally, Mr. President, we say, please excuse the point of personal privilege.  And full disclosure, our ambassador is my best personal friend.  We have raised each other's children.  We have -- our wives are close friends.  My grandchildren are -- consider the Gitenstein's to be almost relatives.  So I can assure you first-hand, this is a man I've worked with for 35 years -- 30 years, actually -- and he has my ear.  I know you've already figured that out, because I know you've gone to him and you know he immediately picks up the phone and calls me.  I hope you won't take advantage of my friendship with the ambassador too badly.

But he is new here, but his diplomatic skills and his erudition I think will serve us both well, Mr. President.  He has a direct line, as I said, to me, and he is very effective.  And I'm confident -- I'm confident that our ties with Romania will continue to thrive, will continue to thrive together with our advance of shared objectives of a free and peaceful Europe.

I'll conclude, Mr. President, by saying something that reminded me of my country, of America, the last thing you said, which is what we say, but we don't always hear.  You said, Mr. Vice President, I want to assure you no matter who wins this election, Romania will remain a strong and vital partner to the United States.  That's what democracies are built on.  That's what long-term alliances thrive on.

And so I wish you all the good luck, the people of Romania, and in the conduct of this election.  And I envy the fact that it's only going to last 30 days.  Ours go on considerably longer.  But at any rate, Mr. President, thank you for your hospitality, also for allowing us the opportunity to meet with your -- your staff, and your defense minister, and others.  We have a lot of work to do, but it's good to be back in Romania.  It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and I feel so much better than the first trip I took here decades ago about the progress you've made and the partnership reform.

So thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BASESCU:  Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President.  If you allow me to mention something extremely important for us, the Romanian army is the single army which have -- Romanian officers are the single foreign officers which have under command American troops -- is the situation in Afghanistan.  And this is a proof how far the relations between Romania and United States --

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  It is the first time that has ever happened, so obviously we trust your officer corps.  Thank you very, very much.

PRESIDENT BASESCU:  Thank you very much.  Thank you again.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Thank you.

END