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Greetings and well-wishes from the Republic of Latvia

May 7, 2003

Sandy Semans,

Editor, Outer Banks Sentinel

Dear American Friends,

On behalf of Latvia, its people and personally, allow me to express my gratitude to Outer Banks Sentinel and the people of your town for researching our common history.

The involvement of Latvian merchant vessels in the coalition against Nazism, their participation in the U.S. Merchant Marine and, alongside Americans, their common struggle against Nazi Germany once again confirms that we shared and continue to share common values, a common understanding of liberty and democracy, and a common hatred of oppressors and invaders.

While undertaking dangerous missions, forty-five crew members lost their lives and six of eight formerly Latvian vessels in US service perished at sea.

We are thankful that you have sought to preserve the memory of the ship Ciltvaira and its crew by naming one of the streets of Nags Head after this vessel. We equally highly appreciate the memorial service being organized by Outer Banks Sentinel on 8 May, when, in remembrance of the seamen and ships that perished during the war, a wreath will be placed on the water at the beach at the end of Ciltvaira Street.

Relations between Latvia and the United States have been and, I am convinced, will always remain friendly and close. We highly appreciate the support given by the United States even while Latvia was under foreign occupation, when US governments refused to recognise Latvia's forceful annexation by the Soviet Union.

It gives me great pleasure to see during my current visit to the United States that another page is being added to the history of good relations between our two countries. A page which recalls our shared historical experience, and provides yet another stimulus for building stronger ties of friendship between our two countries.

Sincerely yours,

Sandra Kalniete

Minister of Foreign Affairs

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Copyright 2003 The Outer Banks Sentinel