The United States first established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The U.S. representative to Lithuania was stationed at the Legation in Riga, Latvia until Legation Kovno was established May 31, 1930. The Soviet invasion and annexation of Lithuania and the other Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia in 1940 forced the closure of the American legation, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal continuation of the interwar republic.
Modern Flag of Lithuania
The United States recognized Lithuania on July 28, 1922, when the U.S. Commissioner at Riga, Evan Young, informed the Foreign Office of Lithuania of the United States’ decision. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes had instructed Young in a telegram dated July 25, 1922, to advise the Foreign Offices of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania of this decision on the 28th.
Diplomatic relations were established on July 28, 1922, when U.S. Commissioner at Riga, Evan Young, informed the Foreign Office of Lithuania that the United States’ recognized its independence and that he would continue as the American representative to the three Baltic States, with the new rank of Minister.
The U.S. Legation at Kovno was established on May 31, 1930, with Hugh S. Fullerton as Charge d’Affaires ad interim. Previous U.S. diplomatic representatives to Lithuania also had been accredited to Estonia and Latvia, and had resided in Riga.
The U.S. Legation at Kaunas was closed on September 5, 1940, after the USSR occupied and annexed Lithuania, as well as Estonia and Latvia, in August 1940. Although the Soviet actions forced the closure of the American Legation and ended the de facto independence of Lithuania, the United States never recognized the state’s forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union. The U.S. Government permitted Lithuanian representatives accredited by the last independent government to remain in the United States with diplomatic status, and the U.S. position remained that diplomatic relations continued uninterrupted.
The U.S. recognized the restoration of Lithuania’s independence on September 2, 1991, in an announcement by President George H.W. Bush.
The United States and Lithuania resumed normal diplomatic relations on September 6, 1991, when U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Curtis Kamman and the Lithuanian First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Valdemaras Katkus, signed a memorandum of understanding concerning diplomatic relations.
The American Embassy at Vilnius was established October 2, 1991, with Darryl N. Johnson as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.