by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

  • 12 Oct. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 12 Oct. 2023 13:21

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Secretary Austin, dear Lloyd,

It is always a pleasure to welcome you and to meet you here at the NATO headquarters.

At our Defence Ministerial meeting, we are addressing a wide range of issues: how to support Ukraine, our deterrence and defence, NATO's missions and operations in Kosovo and Iraq.

And this morning, we will also be briefed about the horrendous terrorist attacks against Israel over the weekend by Hamas, and we were briefed by the Israeli Defence Minister.

On all these issues - the Middle East, Ukraine, Iraq, Kosovo, deterrence and defence - United States and you personally, Secretary Austin, provide security leadership for all the NATO Allies, and that is something we really, really appreciate.

When it comes to Ukraine, we welcome of course, the leadership that you personally demonstrate but also, the fact that that the European Allies and Canada have really stepped up and are also providing substantial support to Ukraine.

So once again, welcome. It's always good to meet you here.

And thank you for being such a staunch supporter of our Alliance.

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mr. Lloyd J. Austin III:
Jens, thanks. It's great to be back in Brussels, and it's great to see you again.

I know you share our outrage at the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas recently. And also our determination to support Israel's right to defend itself.

Jens, this is our first Ministerial since the summit in Vilnius, and during this meeting, I think we'll have a great opportunity to work on how we are going to implement the decisions that were made by our leaders in Vilnius. So I look forward to some great discussions.

We remain focused on strengthening defence and deterrence for NATO.

And I would just say that NATO is as strong and as united as I've ever seen it. And again, as I've told you a number of times, I've been around NATO for many, many years.

It remains the essential forum for consultation, decision and action for transatlantic security.

And so, you know, I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues on how to implement those things that were decided by our leaders back in Vilnius.

Jens, thanks for assembling this great group of leaders, and thanks for what you do to continue to lead us in the right direction.

We are absolutely lucky to have you as the leader of this great body here.

So, thanks a lot.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Thank you so much.