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Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Secretary General Stoltenberg at the Pentagon

March 21, 2017
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Please, have a seat everybody.  Good to have you here.

And welcome to you, secretary general, to you and your party.  It's good to see you.  We met in Brussels.  We met in Munich.  And it's good to meet you now in Washington, D.C.

We have a very strong trans-Atlantic bond.  It's getting stronger.  Relationships don't stay the same.  They're always changing.  In this case, the bond is getting stronger.  It's built on a legacy of common commitments and common defense, and we never forget that in this building.

I was very much impressed by the increased unity I found during my visit with you, and the resolve of the alliance.  We had all hoped for a better future back 20 years ago, and some things haven't turned out the way we wished.  And so we have to address that reality.

But I just also want to say thanks to you personally for your leadership, for the moral example that you set.  NATO, under you, is evolving to defend against aggression and respond to terrorist threats along the southern flank in the Mediterranean and the Turkish border.  

I look forward to engaging with the coalition members who are here this week on the counter-ISIS fight.  And I'm confident that NATO will, as always, be one of the leaders as we deal with this threat.

But thank you again for taking time to visit and for reaffirming the value of the alliance, Secretary General.  Welcome.

SECRETARY GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG:  Thank you so much.  And thank you for welcoming me and my delegation.  It's great to be here in Washington, and to meet with you.  And I also commend you for your strong personal support and leadership when it comes to NATO and the trans-Atlantic bond.

I think we really saw that when you met with all the defense -- (inaudible) -- allies during the defense ministerial meeting in Brussels.  Then you expressed a strong support for the trans-Atlantic unity, the trans-Atlantic bond, and the NATO alliance.  And we are very grateful for that.

I think we all understand that in times of turmoil, in times of uncertainty, the need for strong international institutions as NATO is even greater.  So therefore, we need to adapt.  We need to strengthen NATO in response to the challenges and the -- and the unpredictability we see surrounding us today.

(inaudible) -- strong NATO is, of course, good for Europe, and we are also grateful for the commitment of the United States to the security guarantees to Europe.  But strong NATO is also good for North America because stability in Europe is good for all of us.  Two world wars and the cold war have taught us all that peace and stability in Europe is important for Europe of course, but also for North America.

So I'm looking forward to go through the whole NATO and U.S. agenda, and discuss how we can continue to adapt NATO to a new and more demanding security -- (inaudible).

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you again, secretary general.

Welcome to all of you and your party.  You're always welcome.  Your ideas are always welcome.  Your guidance is always welcome in the Pentagon.  Thank you very much.

And thank you to the press.