Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini will travel to the United States next week and meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, May 3.
Slovakia leader to meet with Donald Trump
The information was confirmed by government spokeswoman Patricia Macikova to the TASR news agency on Wednesday.
“The partners will discuss a broad range of issues with an emphasis on economic and defence cooperation”, she said, highlighting the close economic and trade relations between both countries: “U.S. firms count among the most significant investors in Slovakia, employing 23.000 people”, according to Ms. Macikova.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the modernization of the Slovak Armed Forces and Slovakia’s defence spending. Under growing pressure from the U.S., Bratislava recently pledged to increase its defence expenditures to 1.6% of GDP by 2020. The divisive Defence Cooperation Agreement should also be on the agenda of the bilateral talks.
During his meeting with trump, PM Pellegrini is also expected to make a case against the imposition of tariffs on industrial imports from Slovakia, a threat regularly conjured by the U.S. President that would hit Slovak exports hard.
Trade wars and defense spending in the spotlight
The latest bilateral meeting of this level dates back to 2013, when former U.S. President Barack Obama met with Slovakia’s then-Prime Minister Robert Fico. In 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush also hosted former Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic at the White House.
While outgoing President Andrej Kiska has never been invited by a U.S. President during his time in office, Pellegrini’s invitation is praised as an important success and strong mark of recognition for Slovakia’s diplomacy.
More prosaically, the White House invite could also be considered as a direct reward for Slovakia’s recent purchases of U.S. military equipment, including Black Hawk helicopters and F-16 fighter jets.