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Hagel, German Defense Minister Discuss NATO, Iraq

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen met this morning at the Pentagon, reaffirming the two nations’ strong friendship and alliance, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts an honor cordon to welcome Germany's Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen to the Pentagon, June 19, 2014. The two leaders met to discuss matters of mutual national interest. DOD Photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The leaders discussed security challenges, ranging from post-2014 commitments in Afghanistan to recent developments in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, Kirby said.

"Secretary Hagel and Minister von der Leyen discussed both nations' efforts to reinforce NATO and to reassure our NATO allies since Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine,” he said, adding that such reassurance includes ongoing air, land and sea measures by the U.S. military and other NATO members.

The measures include President Barack Obama's June 3 announcement of the European Reassurance Initiative of up to $1 billion to fund increased rotational presence and exercises across Europe, and Germany's contributions, which in September will include support to NATO's Baltic air policing mission, Kirby said.

Hagel also thanked von der Leyen for Germany's contributions and sacrifices in Afghanistan.

“Germany has been the third largest contributor of troops and the leader of Regional Command North,” the press secretary said. “We welcome Germany's willingness to continue leading Regional Command North as part of NATO's post-2014 Resolute Support mission.”

Hagel and von der Leyen also discussed the upcoming NATO Summit, to be held Sept. 4-5 in Wales.

Kirby said the United States and Germany count on each other to be credible, capable partners as leaders in the transatlantic alliance and the global community.

“As the crises in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine remind us,” he added, “our leadership roles require investment in ready, modern, agile militaries.”

He added, “Both leaders recognized the importance of investing in capabilities that will strengthen our collective security.”

Both also agreed that, as the NATO Summit approaches, they must renew their commitments to transatlantic security, Kirby said.

After their meeting, Hagel left the Pentagon for the White House where the president met with members of his national security team in the Situation Room ahead of Obama’s statement on the U.S. response to violence in Iraq.

Von der Leyen, who Hagel invited to Washington in February during the Munich Security Conference, held a press conference on the steps of the Pentagon’s River entrance.

The German defense minister characterized her conversation with Hagel as “trustful and constructive,” and on the crisis in Iraq she said, “For the long term we need a sustainable solution for the whole region. That is, we have to integrate the diplomatic and political solution from neighboring countries of the whole region.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)

 

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Chuck Hagel

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