Secretary General welcomes US Secretary of Defense to NATO HQ for talks
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to NATO Headquarters on Friday (26 June 2020). They had discussions to follow up the decisions taken by NATO Defence Ministers last week on issues including the Russian missile threat, NATO’s response to COVID-19, and the Alliance’s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Secretary General highlighted NATO’s plans to deal with a possible second wave of COVID-19, with an operation plan, a stockpile of medical equipment, and more funding. He stressed that across the Alliance, armed forces have been supporting civilian efforts and that it was important that Allies continue to invest in their militaries to keep them strong.
The Secretary General also welcomed the recent talks between the United States and Russia on arms control. He and Secretary Esper agreed that China, as a rising global power, has a responsibility to take part in global arms control.
The Secretary General thanked Secretary Esper for his strong commitment to NATO and for the vital contribution of the United States to the Alliance’s shared security. They discussed US military presence in Europe. The Secretary General welcomed that the US is consulting with Allies on their plans for repositioning forces, while making clear that the US commitment to European security remains strong. In recent years the US has been increasing its military presence in Europe. It leads the NATO multinational battlegroup in Poland, has established a presence in Romania and Norway, and stationed Ballistic Missile Defence-capable destroyers in Spain. Mr. Stoltenberg said: “The US military presence in Europe is important for Europe, and it’s also important for North America. Because only by working together can we address the great challenges we face.”
The Secretary General and Secretary Esper also discussed Afghanistan. Mr. Stoltenberg underlined that NATO will continue to adjust its presence in support of the peace process and that this will continue to be done in close coordination with Allies and partners.