Remarks by Secretary Carter and French Minister of Defense Le Drian at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter; French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Good day, everyone. And thank you, thank you for being here.

It's a privilege to host my good friend and staunch ally, Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, here in Washington where we'll continue to advance and institutionalize our increasingly close defense cooperation and alliance.

It's always good to see you, Jean-Yves.

Earlier this month, we marked the one year anniversary of the 13 November Paris attacks, barbaric attacks that were more than an assault on France, they were also an assault on our common human dignity. In the year since, the United States and France has stood resolute together and against terror in Paris, in Iraq, in Syria and elsewhere around the world where we've been called upon.

And as we come together again today, I believe that military cooperation between the United States and our oldest ally, France, has never been stronger. Whether we're combating terrorism around the world or bolstering deterrence to Europe's east or stability in the Asia-Pacific, we're partnering in new ways and in new domains to defend our countries and make a better world for our children.

Today, we'll focus much of our discussion on the counter-ISIL fight. In Mosul, Iraqi security forces, with the help of the United States and France and the rest of our global coalition, are nearing the isolation of the city and they continue their deliberate advance into the city. The plan that Jean-Yves and I and our coalition developed last year with our Iraqi partners and that we discussed in Paris together just last month is progressing according to the plan.

I'd like to thank France especially for its strong military contributions to the campaign, including once again extending the tour of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

I'm encouraged by Iraq's determination in the face of a difficult fight and I'm confident that ISIL's days in Mosul are numbered. Meanwhile in Syria, our local partners are now just 20 kilometers from Raqqah, as isolation of ISIL's so-called capital continues. The reality is that ISIL finds itself under pressure on all fronts simultaneously, and that's exactly what we plan for as we discuss next steps today in our effort to deliver ISIL the lasting defeat it deserves.

Now, of course, as threats like ISIL evolve, so too must the U.S.-France alliance. So we're taking new steps to institutionalize an even stronger U.S.-France defense relationship. Last year, we expanded our intelligence cooperation through special instructions, a move that's made us both safer and bolstered the already strong foundation of our bilateral counterterrorism cooperation to defend against threats against our homeland.

Today, we'll discuss expanding our cooperation in two critical domains, cyber and space, and sign an arrangement for military space cooperation. Most importantly -- most importantly, we'll also sign a joint statement of intent that provides a framework for enhancing our defense cooperation more broadly. These steps combined serve testament to our longstanding partnership.

Jean-Yves, thank you for your continued leadership and your enduring friendship. While there's more to be done, I'm so proud of everything we've accomplished together, particularly in the last two years, and I look forward with working -- to working with you to further institutionalize the gains of our historic alliance and our continued cooperation and friendship into the future.

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be once again in Washington today for yet another meeting with Ashton Carter. It is a real relationship of work and friendship that we have enjoyed month after month. It is very efficient in the common interest of both countries at a time where the threats are extremely heavy.

Our relationship will strengthen in adversity. And I would say that Ashton was always very present at my side ever since the first attacks that really shook up France in January 2015. I wanted to thank him personally at this very special time.

With Ashton Carter, I've always supported a resolute fight against terrorist groups and all groups that threaten us. This mobilization was translated by considerable investment of our armed forces in France; troops, the army, the air force, the navy, special forces and our aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which was deployed three times and which was honored by a visit from Ashton Carter and I think this was a first.

Ashton's -- our efforts are fruitful and ISIS is shrinking. Of course, we have to extend our action, and for that, we need a strong bilateral friendship and community. And the documents that we're about to sign demonstrate once again that this relationship is very strong and vigorous in front of the task that awaits us together.

First, there will be an arrangement on cooperation in terms of space military. This will give a framework to this critical part of our forces in a cooperation that has been strengthening through the years and more critically in the course of the last few months. We're also going to sign a joint statement, and if we wanted to do this gesture together it's because we are proud of the work that we've accomplished together.

Our operational cooperation has become essential and it is a framework of burden sharing. In the Levant, it's the United States that are leading the international coalition against ISIS, and in Africa, it is France that is in the frontlines but with the full support of the United States of America, with the agreement of the Congress of the United States.

I'd like to insist on an important point in our cooperation is the exchange of operational intelligence. After the attacks that struck Paris in November 2015, Ashton and I decided to give special instructions in terms of intelligence in order to facilitate the operations on the theaters in which we are operating together. And in order to facilitate this cooperation, we created a committee called the Lafayette Committee. And given the importance of the work of this committee, we took measures recently in order to make sure that it would last long.

If we have accomplished that much, it's because our interests are converging and we are linked together with a secular fate. With its ups and downs, the alliance between France and the United States is deeply rooted in our histories. It has the most trade strengths in many instances. Next year will be the centenary of the -- entering the war by the United States in the first world war and we'll have more opportunities to celebrate this relationship.

The results that we have obtained confirm the value of a solid Franco-American friendship. From Yorktown to Mosul, this cooperation has always served the security of both our nations.

And in conclusion, I might add that along the last few months, I've been very happy to notice that this cooperation was even strengthened thanks to the very good relationship that Ashton and I have together. It was a real strength for both our countries. Thank you.