Paris Visit Honors Important Relationship, Carter Says
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Feb. 1, 2013 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter spent a rainy day in Paris today, meeting face-to-face with that nation’s top military leaders and their advisers.
Carter deliberately chose France as his first stop on a six-day trip to countries in Europe and the Middle East, he said, “to emphasize the importance of our relationship.”
As part of that bond, the United States has joined other countries and institutions in Europe and Africa in supporting France’s effort to chase Islamic extremists from Mali and bolster the capability of Mali’s own military forces to keep them out.
Mali and the path forward there was a large part of discussions today between Carter and French defense officials.
“I want to compliment the extraordinary performance of French units in Mali,” Carter said, adding that more work remains but he wanted to recognize the courage and professionalism of French forces working with Malian and other partners.
This morning Carter and his staff met with the U.S. Embassy country team in Paris before heading to the Secretariat for Defense and National Security. There he met with Francis Delon, general secretary for defense and national security in the office of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Carter also met with Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian, Presidential Military Adviser Gen. Benoit Puga, Ministry of Defense Senior Political Adviser Jean-Claude Mallet, and Chief of Defense Adm. Edouard Guillaud.
The U.S. government is committed to supporting French efforts, the deputy defense secretary said, including with airlift capabilities, with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and the help of military planners.
Carter also said the Defense Department plans to support contributing institutions like the United Nations, the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States as they equip and train regional forces and provide airlift capabilities.
Carter left Paris today bound for Germany, where he will participate tomorrow, along with Vice President Joe Biden and many other U.S. and international officials, in the 49th Annual Munich Security Conference that began today.
The major, intensive security policy conference draws security experts, foreign ministers and defense ministers from around the world.