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Remarks by Secretary Mattis at an Honor Cordon Welcoming U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Fallon to the Pentagon

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defense Sir Michael Fallon
July 7, 2017
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SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Sir Michael, Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen of the delegation, it's great to have you here.  You're always welcome here, as you know.  Your ideas are welcome here.

In that regard, it's good to host you so soon after the Brussels ministerial.  Minister -- Secretary, as you wrote -- I loved the article that you had in the paper.  You wrote so eloquently in the Daily Telegraph -- I think it -- it was only about 10 days ago that it was in there -- about the values that our nations share being not tradeable.  I thought that was a very concise way to sum up so much of what we stand for, and also what we stand against.

Your people have long defended them, often against great odds, often at terrible cost, and that's from Waterloo to El Alamein and a hundred other places.  And I would just say that you've fought courageously for freedom over all those years, and some things are enduring in this world. 

And, ladies and gentlemen, it's hard to find a stronger bond between two nations, or one with greater significance for freedom and peace.  And I would also say that the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. -- we're joined by 200 years in those values; 200 years of shared values, of ordered liberty, of respect for human dignity and regard for basic political freedoms. 

And I would also point out that the special relationship is not a historic artifact.  In fact, it's highly relevant for the times we're in.  And as a member of the Security Council, Britain has shown unity in condemning the North Korean regime for its repeated violation, to show that it still plays today just as relevant as ever.

I hold enormous respect for your country, for what you've done to bring stability to the international community and for your role in providing security to Afghanistan, as you uplifted your numbers, here, in accordance with the reality on the ground. 

And we in the Department Of Defense are proud to stand alongside you, shoulder to shoulder in our shared fight against threats to freedom.  And close cooperation between the United Kingdom and the United States preserved freedom in the last century, and that cooperation is vital to ensuring its survival in this century.

So, today, Secretary Fallon, you and I will continue our long-running conversation, now, and we welcome your views as a trusted ally as we develop further our own national defense strategy at this time. 

So, Secretary Fallon, ladies and gentlemen, Ambassador, you're welcome, we're honored to have you.  And a few words, Secretary?

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE SIR MICHAEL FALLON:  Well, Secretary Mattis, a pleasure for me to return to Washington for what I believe will be our -- already our sixth meeting. 

SEC. MATTIS:  Yes. 

SEC. FALLON:  We have a huge amount to discuss this morning, but I think three areas in particular will dominate.  First, the need to tackle current security threats.  Our world is becoming darker.  The dangers are increasing from North Korea, whose recent provocation underscored the need to impose a higher price on this rogue regime, a problem that is not just the United States' alone, but a problem for us all; Islamist terror at home and abroad, as we've seen in our own country; and Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and the increase in cyber warfare.

Second, the importance of strengthening Euro-Atlantic security:  These growing dangers pile pressure on our rules-based international system, so we need to do more to strengthen NATO, the bedrock of our defense -- not just upping spending, but making the alliance more agile and more capable of tackling dangers from all directions.

And third and finally, the necessity of deepening our own defense ties.  I am very conscious that it was 100 years ago that the United States entered the Great War alongside Britain.  Today, we remain your strongest ally, collaborating on everything from operations to intelligence, from the nuclear deterrent to the F-35 fighter aircraft.

But an uncertain world must bind us even closer.  And with our orders now for maritime patrol aircraft and Apache helicopters, and our aircraft carrier now undergoing sea trials, there are huge opportunities for further cooperation between our militaries.

Mr. Secretary, let me assure you that, post-election, Britain has a strong government and a steadfast commitment to defense.  Having delivered on our promises to meet the 2 percent target and to build the new ships and planes and tanks that our armed forces require, we will continue stepping up, thinking always globally.

As America, under your new president, faces the great challenges of tomorrow, Britain will remain by your side, ceaselessly confronting aggression and relentless in the fight for peace.

Thank you.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, Secretary.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming up.  Appreciate it.

Q:  Quick question on North Korea for both of you.

You've seen the missile.  What is your assessment on the capability of the North Koreans, on the status of their ability to put a warhead -- nuclear warhead on that missile?

SEC. MATTIS:  We're still analyzing the latest tests at this time, so I don't want to speculate or mislead you at this point.  Obviously they are continuing to mature a threat in violation of the United Nations, and that's the way we look at it.  But right now, I can't give you a specific on that.

Thank you very much.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, Mr. Secretary, do you believe that diplomacy can stop further North Korea missile testing?  Or should we anticipate another test in the near future?

SEC. MATTIS:  You'll have to -- as far as another test in future, you'll have to ask people in Pyongyang about that.  However, this is a diplomatically led international effort to stop a worldwide threat that they are bringing to bear.

So it is led by diplomacy right now.  There are United Nations efforts under way, as you're aware -- certainly, our secretary of state.  And we also see economic aspects to the diplomatic effort to divert them from this wrong path.

Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen -- we've got some work to do.  Thank you for coming up.