Panetta Meets With United Kingdom Counterpart
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
CHICAGO, May 20, 2012 Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met here this afternoon with his counterpart from the United Kingdom, Secretary of State of Defense Philip Hammond, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
The top defense officials met during the first day of the 25th NATO Summit, the largest and broadest in the alliance’s history.
Panetta and Hammond discussed “the unfolding transition in Afghanistan, the importance of supporting a sustainable Afghan national security force, and the need to frame an effective enduring relationship with Afghanistan beyond 2014,” Little said.
“They also touched on broader security challenges in Southwest Asia, as well as the P5+1 process with Iran and the ongoing crisis in Syria,” he added. The P5+1 countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.
Panetta and Hammond signaled support for identifying ways to strengthen NATO capabilities, Little said. That, he added is expected to be a main topic of conversation at a dinner Panetta is hosting for his fellow defense ministers tonight.
Panetta is here to participate in discussions with heads of state and government and to attend North Atlantic Council sessions on 21st-century NATO capabilities, the long-term commitment to Afghanistan by NATO and its International Security Assistance Force partners, and NATO partnerships.
Today the secretary attended a signing ceremony for the purchase by 13 NATO allies of a ground surveillance system for future alliance operations. Tomorrow, he will join Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki for a visit to a first-of-its-kind joint Defense Department-VA hospital in north Chicago.