by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin at their meeting in the margins of the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence
Secretary Austin, dear Lloyd,
Welcome to NATO.
It's so great to see you here again.
And thank you for your leadership.
And thank you for your strong commitment to our Alliance.
This is even more important now when Europe is in the midst of a critical security situation with the Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine.
We are of course ready to engage in dialogue with Russia.
To seek a political, diplomatic solution.
But we are also prepared for the worst.
And therefore, I'm grateful for the US increased presence in Europe.
With more troops in the eastern part of the Alliance.
I met some of them in Romania on Friday. And it's always impressive to see the commitment, the professionalism of American troops.
Also when they conducted their duties here in Europe.
I also welcome the increased readiness of 8,500 US troops ready to support the NATO Response Force.
So your commitment, not only words but also in deeds to our Alliances, is of great importance and very much welcomed.
And I look forward to meeting later on today, with all the other Ministers, to discuss the challenges we face together.