by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So Secretary Blinken, dear Tony,
Welcome back to NATO.
It’s really great to see you here again. You participated in the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting just last week and the fact that you are back again this month, together with Secretary Austin, I think that demonstrates the strong US commitment to NATO, to our transatlantic bond, and that NATO is the only place where North America and Europe meet every day to address pressing security challenges. And today we will discuss our future presence in Afghanistan. We welcome this opportunity to closely coordinate and consult with all Allies, as we agree on our future presence in Afghanistan. So I look forward to the discussion with you, also with the Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers later on today.
We will also discuss and address Russia’s aggressive actions in and around Ukraine. We are all concerned about the massive military build up. And Russia must end this military build up, stop provocations and de-escalate.
I’m also looking forward to discussing the preparations for the upcoming NATO summit and the forward-looking agenda of NATO2030. So, there are many issues to be discussed. Once again, very much welcome to you, Tony.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken: Jens, Secretary General, thank you. It's very good to be back in NATO. We were here just a few weeks ago for a very good and important session with all of our colleagues, and it's a pleasure to be back here today.
This is an important moment for our Alliance. Almost 20 years ago, after the United States was attacked on 9/11, together, we went into Afghanistan to deal with those who attacked us, and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who might attack any of us.
And together, we have achieved the goals that we set out to achieve. And now, it is time to bring our forces home.
President Biden will speak to this in a few hours in the United States, and I'm here to work closely with our Allies, with the Secretary General, on the principle that we've established from the start. In together, adapt together, and out together.
We will work very closely together, in the weeks and months ahead, on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan.
But even as we do that, our commitment to Afghanistan, to its future, will remain. And we'll talk about that today as well. As Jens has said, we'll also discuss the concerns, shared across the Alliance and among Allies, about Russia's actions in and near Ukraine, particularly the significant massing of forces, the largest since 2014.
And we'll talk about the future of our Alliance. This too is a very important year for NATO. The work of the Secretary General, his leadership in setting out a vision for NATO 2030, and a strong agenda to make sure that NATO remains strong, effective, and united going forward, is vitally important and we very much look forward to working on that.
So, a lot to discuss, a lot to talk about. It's very good to be back here and I thank you, Jens, for having us here today.