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Fighting Transnational Crime

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas signed Protocols of Exchange of Instruments of Ratification for our mutual legal assistance and extradition agreements with Lithuania. These bilateral agreements are necessary to advance US-EU agreements signed in 2003 and will improve legal cooperation between our countries.

The U.S. has 26 similar sets of such agreements pending, with each member of the European Union. Lithuania is the first EU member with which the United States has completed our respective domestic ratification processes.

Speaking before the signing ceremony, Secretary of State Clinton noted that the 2 countries are united through a shared commitment to common principles and common purposes:

"Both our countries share a determination to promote democracy, uphold the rule of law, encourage broad-based economic prosperity, and we are deeply committed to NATO’s pledge of collective security. These principles provide the foundation for our efforts to address a growing array of economic, diplomatic, and security challenges. In order to succeed in these common efforts, we have to cooperate even more closely than we already have in the past."

The signing of the Protocols of Exchange of Instruments of Ratification is the final step of a process that began nearly 4 years ago, when the U.S. and Lithuania originally signed the bilateral Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance agreements. However, the Agreements then had to be ratified by the legislatures of both countries; the completion of that process was symbolized by the March 9 signing and exchange of instruments of ratification concerning the Protocols.

"Many of the law enforcement challenges our countries face today have little respect for borders," said Secretary of State Clinton:

"Networks of computer hackers, financial criminals, and violent extremists often hide behind international borders and use geography to gain impunity. These twin agreements between the United States and Lithuania give our police and our prosecutors the state-of-the-art tools they need to cooperate in bringing criminals to justice on both sides of the Atlantic."

"These agreements are only one small facet of the vibrant partnership the United States enjoys with the people and Government of Lithuania," said Secretary of State Clinton.