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VILNIUS, Feb 18, BNS – Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis says he has received a clear signal in the United States of Washington’s support to the new nuclear plant construction project in Lithuania.

“This was the first clear and straightforward US statement since we have started developing the project,” Azubalis said in a telephone interview to BNS on Friday. Last week A. Azubalis was visiting the United States where he met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her deputy James Steinberg.

“In a subsequent detailed discussion, Deputy Secretary Steinberg underscored strong US support (…) for Lithuania’s multifaceted efforts to promote energy security, including the development of a nuclear power plant for the Baltic region,” Mark Toner, spokesman for the US Department of State, said at a news conference in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

In Azubalis’ words, the US statement “is a very serious signal” to potential investors and those thinking “about stalling or slackening the implementation of the four-country project.”

“The Department of State communicates the position of the US administration. The position is read and understood by all parties concerned, even the parties that are not highly interested in the implementation of the project. First of all, as it is always the case, there is the issue of political determination, and then it is the matter of specialist and expert consultants,” said the foreign minister.

He said that direct conversations were currently underway with investors, however, refusing to specify whether US companies were among them.

Asked about his opinion of the statements about a pause in the nuclear power project, he replied: “I don’t know who is talking about a pause, probably it is the people who want an everlasting pause.”

Lithuania hopes to this year find a strategic investor to the new power facility, which its plans to build together with Latvia, Estonia and Poland. After failure of the last year’s tender, the country is now searching for an investor through direct talks.