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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Denmark's Minister of Defense Morten Bodskov to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, Mr. Minister, it's an honor to -- to host you at the Pentagon. Thanks for coming, especially at this critical moment for European security.

Let me start by saying how proud I am of the close relationship that the United States has with the Kingdom of Denmark. Together, we've worked to protect the rules-based international order that has helped the world become more safer, more secure and more prosperous over the past seven decades. And Denmark continues to be a close and long-standing ally to the United States, and today, we proudly stand with you in the face of Russian aggression that threatens Europe's freedom and security. Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine continues to be reckless and cruel.

So, Mr. Minister, I want to thank you for everything that you're doing to support the Ukrainian people and their military in their hour of need. Denmark has joined the United States, our allies and our partners in rushing security assistance and humanitarian aid to the brave people of Ukraine, and we especially appreciate your contribution of forces to Latvia and Estonia. The Copenhagen Conference that you recently organized is yet another example of your innovative leadership in European defense and security in these historic times. We welcome Denmark's clear understanding of the threats that we face.

So again, thank you for all that you're doing for our shared security, Mr. Minister, and I really look forward to a great discussion today.

DANISH MINISTER OF DEFENSE MORTEN BODSKOV: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for those warm words. It's good to be in Washington and at the Pentagon, and I want to thank you for the invitation to come here today.

The United States and Denmark are close allies. We are not only close allies, but we are also close friends, and we share a long-standing defense relationship. We've also now started talks on a bilateral defense cooperation agreement. This will further deepen the bonds between Denmark and the United States.

Today, we have much to discuss. There is a war raging in Europe as we speak, and Ukraine is fighting for freedom and democracy, and Europe and the United States have been unified in our response to that. We are assessing a Ukraine with historic resolve and determination, and your personal leadership has played a central role to this, and I want to thank you for that. I've come here with my team today, especially to thank you for that.

I've also come here to send a strong message that Denmark will continue to be at the core of countries that will assist Ukraine. We have, as you mentioned, demonstrated that through many donations, and -- and last year, the Copenhagen Ukraine Conference.

The Nordic/Baltic region is also undergoing a -- historic security changes now. Sweden and Finland’s invitation to join NATO will make the alliance even stronger, and Denmark is ready -- is already giving a substantial contribution to the Baltic Sea security in all domains, and we will continue to do so.

U.S. military presence in Europe is vital for our peace, prosperity and stability in our region. Also in that respect have you shown leadership and commitment, Mr. Secretary. I want to thank you for that. This is not something we should take for granted, but what you can take for granted is that the United States can count on Denmark and our willingness to take responsibility for the challenges that we're facing right now. Thank you very much.

SEC. AUSTIN: Thanks, Mr. Minister.

Okay, everybody, thanks.