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Mattis Meets German Counterpart, Highlights Trans-Atlantic Bond

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, June 28, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with his German counterpart today in southern Germany, where the two leaders discussed a number of security priorities, including Afghanistan and the enhanced forward presence in Europe.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's defense minister, meet the press at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 28, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's defense minister, meet the press at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 28, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's defense minister, meet the press at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 28, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr Joint Conference
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's defense minister, meet the press at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 28, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

Mattis and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen held talks at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Strategic Dialogue

Mattis described the discussion as a strategic dialogue, and a way to pay his "deep respects to an ally that's committed to freedom and to human dignity, and to recognize the strength of the trans-Atlantic bond."

The relationship, he said, is built on trust.

"The trans-Atlantic bond does remain strong and I want to highlight that point," Mattis said, adding the Marshall Center is the only Defense Department regional center that is "made up of two nations working together, working jointly."

Mattis then gave remarks at the center highlighting the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO's system of collective defense.

The Marshall Plan initiative provided more than $13 billion in economic support to help rebuild western European economies after the end of World War II.

U.S., Germany Aligned Ahead of NATO Ministerial

Mattis, who later today traveled on to Brussels to attend tomorrow’s NATO ministerial meeting, said the United States and Germany are aligned going into the talks.

The secretary highlighted the role of the German military in bolstering the NATO deterrent mission in Eastern Europe, saying U.S. and German troops serve alongside together, "shoulder to shoulder" there.

Discussions in Brussels will include the fight to defeat global terrorism and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, he said.

Partnering to Defeat ISIS

Germany is NATO's second-largest troop contributor and a "vital contributor to the united coalition campaign to defeat ISIS that is achieving great success right now," Mattis said.

Other topics are to include Afghanistan, and NATO partner-nations' plans for burden-sharing and other issues related to shared security, according to the secretary.

"I'd just point out that the NATO alliance is as relevant today as it was when it was founded," Mattis said. "Together, our nations work to share the burden to defend freedom."

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)