LONDON, March 31, 2017 —
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis discussed security concerns with his British counterpart here today, and praised the enduring relationship between the U.S. and the United Kingdom in defending freedom and shared values.
In his first visit to the U.K. as defense secretary, Mattis met with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon at the British Defense Ministry.
In a joint press conference at a nearby historic mansion, Lancaster House, the leaders said the discussions included enhancing bilateral ties, addressing security challenges, countering extremism and strengthening NATO.
"On behalf of the American people, I thank the people of this country for being with us to confront our foes," Mattis said. "If necessary, we will follow them to the ends of the Earth to stop their mayhem."
Mattis later met with British Prime Minister Theresa May at her office at No. 10 Downing St. Those talks, according to May's office, focused on the strong U.S.-U.K. defense cooperation and how the two nations can work together to tackle shared challenges.
U.S., U.K. 'United by Values'
The U.S. and U.K. have stood together for generations to defend freedom and shared values, Mattis said. He pointed out that his visit here comes one week after an attack in London claimed the lives of an American and three British citizens.
"It's good to be standing beside you, especially at this time and place, soon after a senseless murderer killed citizens of both of our countries," Mattis said. "The United States and the United Kingdom stand together in good times and bad, united by values that took root here so long ago."
Following the attacks of 9/11, the U.K. stood alongside the U.S., Mattis said, as he honored the British troops who have been killed or wounded in the defense of freedom and shared values since then.
"We see each other on an equal footing in our assessment to the security challenges and in crafting our partnership's way ahead, because our two nations are bulwarks against the maniacs who think that by hurting us they can scare us," Mattis said.
He highlighted the U.S.-U.K. cooperation in military-to-military activities, explaining how the two nations continue to this day to defend those values.
"We stand here together today to show that our people are worthy successors to those past generations that defended freedoms we enjoy today," Mattis said.
U.S.-U.K. Relationship is 'Source of Strength'
The relationship between the U.S. and U.K. is not a historic artifact, Mattis said, instead, it is a "source of strength today for our two nations committed to standing together in defense of our freedoms."
Fallon said, "We have no closer friend than the United States. Our relationship endures because it is founded firmly on the values that we share in common."
The U.S. and U.K. cooperate in a myriad of global efforts, including as fellow members of NATO, with troops who have served alongside each other around the world, and as members of the coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Mattis arrived in London yesterday. He traveled from New York, where he held closed consultations on defense issues at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)