Pentagon Stresses NATO Bonds

Trans-Atlantic Legacy of Common Defense

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2017 — The trans-Atlantic bonds built on a legacy of common commitments and common defense continue to get stronger, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today before a meeting at the Pentagon with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

In a statement released after the meeting, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the two leaders met to discuss the key role the alliance plays in trans-Atlantic security and to review preparations for the upcoming special meeting of NATO heads of state and government.

Mattis noted in remarks before the meeting that he and Stoltenberg had met in Brussels and in Munich recently.

Impressed by Increased Unity

“I was very much impressed by the increased unity I found during my visit with you and the resolve of the alliance,” he said. “We had all hoped for a better future back 20 years ago, and some things haven’t turned out the way we wish, so we have to address that reality.”

The secretary thanked Stoltenberg for his leadership and for the moral example that he has set. With a meeting scheduled this week for the coalition working to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Mattis said, he’s counting on NATO’s continued support for that effort.

“NATO under you is evolving to defend against aggression and respond to terrorist threats along the southern flanks along the Mediterranean and Turkey’s border,” Mattis said. “I look forward to engaging with the coalition members who are here this week on the counter-ISIS fight, and I am confident that NATO will as always be one of the leaders as we deal with this threat.”

Stoltenberg expressed his gratitude to Mattis for the secretary’s “strong support for trans-Atlantic unity and trans-Atlantic bond and the NATO alliance.”

NATO Must Adapt

“I think we all understand that in times of turmoil, in times of uncertainty, the need for strong international institutions like NATO is even greater,” he said, “so therefore we need to adapt, we need to strengthen NATO in response to the challenges and the unpredictability we see surrounding us today.”

In his post-meeting statement, Davis said Mattis and Stoltenberg discussed ways to encourage allies to assume a more equitable share of alliance security and defense responsibilities.

Mattis thanked Stoltenberg for his leadership on this issue, he said, and applauded those allies already meeting the benchmark of spending 2 percent of their country’s gross domestic product on defense. President Donald Trump had recently called NATO member Germany to account for under-spending.

Mattis and Stoltenberg also discussed enhancing NATO’s role in fighting terrorism and defeating ISIS, as well as NATO’s missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, Davis said. Both pledged to consult in the coming months and said they look forward to meeting again at the next NATO defense ministerial conference, he added.

Source: US Department of Defense

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