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    Flags fly at half mast at NATO headquarters in Brussels, March 23, 2016.

    Belgian King, Lithuanian Leader to Discuss Ties, NATO Commitments on Thursday

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    According to a statement published at the president's website, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite will meet with King Philippe of Belgium on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation, in particular within NATO framework.

    VILNIUS (Sputnik) Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite will meet with King Philippe of Belgium on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation, in particular within NATO framework, a statement published at the Lithuanian president's website said.

    "President Dalia Grybauskaitė will meet with King Philippe of the Belgians tomorrow, Thursday, May 4 at 12 noon. The President and the King will discuss bilateral relations as well as cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries and the Benelux," the statement, published on Wednesday, read.

    The meeting would focus on such issues as security in the region and across NATO’s Eastern flank, as well as preparations for the NATO summit set for late May.

    Grybauskaite and King Philippe are also expected to meet with Belgian soldiers serving in the NATO forward presence battalion in Rukla.

    So far about 100 logistic support troops from Belgium are deployed in Lithuania. In general, over 1,200 servicemen from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, France and Croatia are set to be deployed in Lithuania in 2017-2018 as part of the NATO forward presence battalion.

    Following the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence in Europe, particularly in Eastern European states, citing Russia's alleged interference in the conflict as justification for the move. A decision of the alliance to deploy four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland was announced by the alliance's secretary general after the NATO summit in July 2016.

    Moscow has repeatedly warned that amassing troops and military equipment on its borders is provocative, violates past NATO pledges, and can lead to regional and global destabilization.

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    NATO, King Philippe, Dalia Grybauskaite, Belgium, Lithuania
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