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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Remarks Welcoming German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, Boris, Mr. Minister, welcome back to the Pentagon.

Yesterday marked 79 years since V-E Day and the Allied sacrifice (inaudible). Boris, your wreath-laying ceremony yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery underscored the commitment of today's Germany to progress, memory, democracy and human rights.

Today, Germany is a force for peace and security. After the United States, Germany is the second-largest donor of military assistance to Ukraine as it resists Putin's aggression. Now, you've earmarked $7.7 billion for Ukraine in 2024 alone, and Germany has donated critical air defense systems and artillery, and we will continue our close partnership to ensure that Ukraine has the capabilities that it needs to succeed on the battlefield. Germany has also taken in the largest number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe, helping more than 1.1 million desperate civilians. So our message today is clear: together, we will ensure that our support for Ukraine remains strong and enduring.

President Biden recently signed into law more life-saving assistance for Ukraine and other partners which allowed us to move out immediately to send Ukraine critical air defense capabilities, artillery, and armor from our stocks. And Boris, thanks for your leadership, and thanks for everything that Germany is doing for Ukraine's self-defense.

Germany's plan for a permanent brigade in Lithuania is an historic commitment that will strengthen European security. Germany is also deploying its troops to support security and stability in the Middle East and Africa and the Balkans. And whether deterring the Kremlin's aggression or bolstering stability in the Indo-Pacific, our two proud democracies are in lockstep.

We're also meeting at a significant time for NATO, which will head into the Washington Summit in July stronger than ever with 32 allies. Now Boris, I know how dedicated you are to keeping NATO unified, ready and resolute, and we commend Germany for reaching our shared NATO commitment to spend at least two percent of your GDP on defense this year.

Germany remains one of our strongest and most reliable allies, and I'm proud to reaffirm our alliance today and to continue working together for security and peace. And thanks again for making the trip. It's great to see you, and I look forward to a great discussion. Over to you, sir.

DEFENSE MINISTER BORIS PISTORIUS: Austin, thank you very much. Good friends, first of all, I would like to thank you for your really kind words of welcome and for your hospitality once more, and I'm glad to see you here again at the Pentagon. It's already my second visit, and my second, really, within a year, that underlines the close and trusting defense relationship between our two nations, as well as between us two personally.

Over the past year, we have worked closely together to address a variety of common challenges and strengthen the trans-Atlantic partnership. I look forward to continuing this work and the personal conversation today, and in the month to come.

An important topic, of course — you already mentioned it — will be the support for Ukraine, and I'm very, very grateful to the United States for its leadership and support of Ukraine. Thank you also personally, dear Lloyd, for your relentless efforts. Ukraine is under pressure, and it needs our joint support.

Germany and the United States not only share the values of freedom and democracy, as you underlined, but also, together with all our allies, the responsibility for the security and defense of the Euro-Atlantic. In this context, I would like to confirm our strong commitment to more contributions to fair trans-Atlantic burden-sharing. We are taking on more responsibility, and together with other NATO allies, are increasing our investments in defense substantially. We have undertaken several huge steps to rebalance the burden-sharing, for example, the brigade in Lithuania or the European Sky Shield Initiative, we fulfill the two percent GDP pledge in 2024, and will continue to do so.

Having said, this (sic) role of the United States for security and defense in Europe, we remain decisive. We are deeply grateful for this enduring commitment.

At the same time, we are becoming increasingly involved in the Indo-Pacific. A free and peaceful Indo-Pacific is important to all of us, and we want to help promote peace and stability in that region. Before starting my journey on Tuesday, I bid farewell to our unit for the German Indo-Pacific deployments that will be in New York on the 23 of May, San Diego afterwards in June, and look forward to the participation in RIMPAC and a true trip around the world focusing on the Indo-Pacific region, and this is our commitment, too.

Germany is and remains a staunch ally of the United States. We both will continue to work closely as partners, as allies and as friends. This is more important than ever in this world, and I'm confident that we can achieve much together. I'm looking forward to today's conversation and our future cooperation. Thanks a lot.

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, Minister, welcome again, and thanks, everybody.