Trump welcomes Romanian President to White House

Trump stresses importance of central Europe

By Betsy Klein, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

President Donald Trump welcomes Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to the White House for bilateral meetings.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Donald Trump welcomed Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to the White House for bilateral meetings on Tuesday.

The two leaders were to discuss defense, energy and law enforcement cooperation between the two nations, according to a senior administration official briefing reporters on a conference call ahead of the visit. They will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the end of communism and the 15th anniversary of the country's membership in NATO.

Iohannis previously visited Trump at the White House in June 2017. They held a news conference in the Rose Garden at the time, but it's unlikely the two will address the press in a formal setting on Tuesday.

The visit is one in series of meetings between Trump and Central European leaders. A second senior official noted that Trump has met with leaders from "almost every country in that region" and that he "wants to show the importance of central Europe to the United States as allies and security partners and business and commercial partners."

Tuesday's visit comes days before Trump travels to France for the G7 summit where he will meet with other world leaders to discuss a host of global issues. Next month, he will travel to Denmark and Poland.

The official described Romania as a "dynamic" country with which the US has "excellent relations of friendship, commerce, and security."

Officials were asked by a reporter on the call whether there would be a decision this week as to whether to accept Romania in the visa waiver program. An official said they expect it to be discussed Tuesday, but that it will only happen when Romania meets the requirements of the program.

The United States' Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes without needing to obtain a visa. Thirty-eight countries currently participate in the program, according to the State Department. Romania is one of a handful of nations actively seeking to join the program, pending approval by the US government.

Iohannis in 2017 told reporters that he brought up the topic of visa waivers with Trump during their meeting.

"I mentioned this issue, and I also mentioned it during other meetings I had, because this is important for us. It's important for Romanians who want to come to the United States," he said during the Rose Garden press event.

Asked Monday by a reporter for Russian state media what deliverables were expected following the meeting, a senior official said, "stay tuned."

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.