Immediate Release

Readout of Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper's Meetings With Counterparts From Poland, the United Kingdom, Romania and Spain

Feb. 12, 2020

Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper held bilateral meetings with four of his counterparts from Poland, the United Kingdom, Romania and Spain during the first day of the February 2020 NATO Defense Ministerial. 

Secretary Esper and Polish Minister of National Defence Marius Błaszczak hailed 2019 as a banner year for U.S.-Polish relations, which included two Presidential Joint Declarations on force posture and cooperative efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and NATO's enhanced forward presence in Latvia. Secretary Esper thanked Poland for their contributions to defense spending and for hosting an historic DEFENDER Europe 2020 exercise later this year. 

Esper then met with Minister of National Defence for Romania Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă. The leaders affirmed their commitment to ensuring security in the Black Sea region, deterring Russian aggression, and bolstering interoperability. Secretary Esper thanked Romanians for hosting SEA SHIELD 2020 next month, which will lead to greater maritime interoperability and deeper cooperation among NATO allies and partners. He also acknowledged Romania's positive progress on defense spending and international contributions. 

Secretary Esper and Secretary of State for Defence for the United Kingdom Ben Wallace also had an opportunity to meet and discuss their shared mission to defeat ISIS. Esper thanked the U.K. for their strong statements of commitment over the past weeks, and the U.K.'s enduring support which has allowed the coalition to navigate a number of challenges over the past several years. Secretary Esper thanked Minister Wallace for being a steadfast and loyal ally as one of our oldest friends and partners. 

Finally, during a bilateral meeting with Minister of Defence for Spain Margarita Robles, Secretary Esper expressed his appreciation for Spain's strong defense partnership. He urged them to honor their pledge to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024 and vowed to continue to partner together in our shared mission to defeat ISIS. The leaders confirmed they look forward to a continued partnership.

Secretary Esper will continue to meet with partners and allies throughout the Defense Ministerial, reaffirming the importance of strengthening the NATO alliance through readiness, ensuring more equitable burden sharing, and addressing regional security issues.