by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Secretary Austin, dear Lloyd,
It’s great to see you here and welcome to the NATO Headquarters. And the fact that you are here to discuss important issues with the NATO Allies, demonstrates your personal commitment to NATO, to the transatlantic bond, but also the strong US commitment to our alliance. And NATO is the only place where North America and Europe meet every day to address pressing security issues, and today we will address Afghanistan. We went into Afghanistan together after the attack on the United States, 9/11. The first and only time we invoked Article 5. And as you have stated, again and again, we went in together, we adjusted our presence together and we will also leave together. And I welcome the close consultations we’ve had over the last two weeks, and months, on Afghanistan. And it is important that we stay united and coordinated as we move forward.
Then I also look forward to discussing, to discuss Russia's aggressive actions in and around Ukraine. We have seen the massive military build up, with the largest amassing of a force since 2014. Yesterday we met with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Minister Kuleba, here at NATO and Allies expressed a strong support, political, practical support to Ukraine, and also stated clearly that Russia must end its military build up along the borders and stop provocations, stop the provocations, and also de-escalate. So I think this is also an issue where NATO Allies need to stand together and express close support to Ukraine.
And lastly, I’m looking forward to also address the preparations for the upcoming NATO Summit, including the NATO2030 agenda, which is about the future of NATO. An ambitious forward-looking agenda, where we can demonstrate that our message about re-energizing our alliance is not only something we demonstrate in words but also in deeds.
So it's great to see you here again, I know that you have a lot of experience, knowledge, about this alliance in your different capacities so therefore it's great to have you here in the NATO headquarters, welcome Lloyd.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III: Dear Jens, Mr. Secretary General, thank you so much for being a great host and for such a warm welcome here. I'm delighted to be here on my very first visit to Europe as a Secretary of Defense and certainly to have the opportunity to come by and spend some quality time with you and NATO Headquarters, it is very, very important.
And I wanted to come in person to let you know that, and remind you, of our pledge to reinvigorate our relationship with NATO. And we view NATO as a cornerstone of transatlantic security.
I want to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to the collective defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
And as you've mentioned we have a number of very important issues to talk about, not the least of which is Russia, and I certainly share your concern with the recent build-up on the Ukraine border of Russian forces.
And I certainly look forward to discussing your views on NATO 2030. I think you've done some tremendous work to get us moving in the right direction. And I look forward to discussing that in detail with you.
Again, thanks so much for such a warm welcome and thanks to all of your staff for what they've done to make this possible. I look forward to the discussion.