The United States established diplomatic relations with Latvia on July 28, 1922. The U.S. Legation in Riga was officially established on November 13, 1922 and served as the headquarters for U.S. representation in the Baltics during the interwar era. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the legation on September 5, 1940, but Latvian representation in the United States has continued uninterrupted since 1922. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Latvia into the U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Latvia as a legal continuation of the interwar republic.
Latvia and the United States have signed treaties on investment, trade, intellectual property protection, extradition, mutual legal assistance, and avoidance of double taxation. Latvia has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991. In 2008, Latvia joined the visa waiver program.
The primary goal of the United States is for Latvia to play a positive and stabilizing role in an integrated Europe and to participate fully in regional political, economic and security structures. The 1998 U.S.-Baltic Charter spells out the fundamentals of U.S. bilateral relationships in the Baltics and establishes institutional mechanisms to support sovereignty and free markets, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, and strengthen security ties. Latvia joined both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union (EU) in 2004.
Between 1990 and 1999, USAID delivered more than $57 million to support Latvia's transition to a market-oriented democracy. Aid from the American people focused on economic and democratic reform, promoting the rule of law, improving health care, and energy conservation. Although the USAID Mission in Riga closed its doors in 1999, the legacy of USAID development assistance has endured.
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