WASHINGTON, May 9, 2017 —
The United States stands firmly with its ally and fellow NATO member Denmark, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in the Danish capital of Copenhagen today.
The secretary and prime minister made brief remarks before going into bilateral discussions.
In Copenhagen on his first stop of a three-country trip to Europe, Mattis joined with his Danish counterpart, Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen, to co-host a meeting of leaders from 15 countries to discuss the effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The secretary complimented Rasmussen on the Danish military, noting that he had seen them personally in combat zones.
“The skill of your troops is matched by their ethical performance, which is critical when you're fighting on battlefields where innocent people are mixed in among a very merciless enemy," Mattis told the prime minister. "And it takes a special kind of soldier to master that battlefield. You have fielded very high-quality troops.”
As he had told the defense minister, the secretary told the prime minister, the year 2014 was an eye-opener in terms of commitment to defense. “And we now confront concerns from the east and threats from the south,” he added. “And we're going to have to stand visible, but also indivisible as we deal with these issues.”
Denmark's substantial increase in defense spending shows that the trajectory recognizes reality as it's been revealed since 2014, Mattis told Rasmussen. "And that trajectory received 100 percent of our government's support as you increased [appropriately] to the situation you face now,” the secretary added.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)