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Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Prime Minister Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Denmark

PRIME MINISTER LARS LOKKE RASMUSSEN:  It's a great honor and a great pleasure to welcome the secretary of defense, Mr. James Mattis, to Copenhagen.  I'm sure we'll have a fruitful meeting.  And from our talks, while we entered the room and made the steps, you -- (inaudible) -- told me that you had had -- (inaudible) -- conversations with -- (inaudible) -- minister of defense.  So I'm -- (inaudible) -- to our meeting.

This meeting takes place just a few days after two of your citizens most tragically were, died in – (inaudible) -- accidents in -- (inaudible).  I want you to accept my condolences.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I met with your president in the Oval Office.  It was I think he would say a great meeting.  It was a great meeting.  It was a very constructive meeting.  And I remember that he emphasized the way he regards Danish soldiers in a most positive way.  He also praised you as his new minister of defense – secretary of defense.  I just want to say that I agree with him in both remarks, the Danish soldiers and you as the secretary of defense.

You are a close friend to Denmark in your former capacity as officer -- (inaudible) -- and in your new capacity, and we stand behind you -- (inaudible) -- freedom and democracy -- (inaudible).  And for that, we -- (inaudible) -- we are ready to give our military spending -- (inaudible) -- and -- (inaudible) -- substantially increased -- (inaudible) -- my government.

And in the meanwhile, we are doing our utmost- to participate in the fight against ISIS in Afghanistan, in Iraq where we have had and still have soldiers who train with the local security forces.  We also have special forces present with a -- (inaudible) -- mandate so that they can cross the fault lines.

So we stand ready.  And you are most welcome here, and -- (inaudible) -- look very much forward to our meeting today.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Prime minister, thank you for taking time from your schedule.  And I will just tell you, sir, that we stand fully with Denmark as far as being a member of NATO.  You've been an ally of ours for a long time, and we think that we've been a good ally for you.  

Your troops, I've personally seen them in combat zones.  And I would just tell you that 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 -- a very merciless enemy.  And it takes a special kind of soldier to master that battlefield.  And you have fielded very high-quality troops.

In terms of our commitment to defense, the year 2014 was an eye-opener for all of us, I think.  And we now confront concerns from the east and threats from the south.  And we're going to have to stand visible, but also indivisible as we deal with these issues.  I'm on my way from here, sir, to Lithuania where I'll observe the NATO troops together under the German framework nation there as we make very clear that these problems we have between us and Russia will be solved by diplomats and no other way.

So coming to Denmark at a time when you've created a substantial increase in your defense spending, it shows that the trajectory recognizes the reality as it's been revealed since 2014.  And that trajectory received 100 percent of our government's support as you increased appropriate to the situation you face now.

So thank you again.  I look forward to our meeting, Mr. Prime Minister, but also thank you for the very good meetings that your country hosted this morning for the defeat ISIS campaign.  I look forward to continuing our relationship together here.

Thank you.

P.M. RASMUSSEN:  Thank you, sir.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you.