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Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg at the NATO Defense Ministerial, Brussels, Belgium

Feb. 13, 2019
Acting Secretary Of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

SECRETARY GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG:  Good to be here.  Good to be here.

Patrick, it's great to see you here at the NATO headquarters, following your hospitality when I met you in Washington just a couple weeks ago.

And it's great to have you here because I know you are so committed to NATO.  You are really showing leadership for this alliance.  And we are going to doing this meeting to address a wide range of timely and pressing security issues for the alliance, including the INF Treaty.  Russia continues to violate the treaty, and we need to plan for a world without the treaty and with more Russian missiles.

Burden-sharing:  All allies agree that we need to improve burden-sharing the alliance.  And we are inspired by what we see.  European allies and Canada are investing more, adding 100 billion extra U.S. dollars for defense from 2016 to 2020.

And then, of course, NATO missions and operations, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.  And you visited Iraq and Afghanistan earlier this week, and we look forward to -- to listen to you, to your assessments and to your reports on how you assess the situation in -- in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the NATO missions there.

So once again, welcome to NATO, to the headquarters.  And I look forward to speaking with you at the NATO Defense Minister Meeting.

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  It's always a pleasure to be able to spend time with you, and especially in such a nice facility.  Maybe, like you mentioned there, we're going to do a lot of work in our time.

I think the preparation and what you outlined in terms of the INF and burden-sharing is important.  But also the heavy lifting that we plan to do around readiness.

Your amazing leadership in terms of really generating more cash, more resources -- our real tasking now is to translate that into results.  And I'm prepared, per your tasking, to discuss our contributions, but also to work with fellow NATO members to achieve the high goals that you've set for readiness.

I did have a really good trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.  I was impressed by the strong NATO teams.  I came away with a real understanding that there's an opportunity for peace, and the work that the teams are doing give the diplomats real leverage for negotiations.  I'm very, very encouraged.

And my takeaway was the same in -- in Baghdad:  strong teams and their work on training and assisting the Iraqi security forces is progressing very, very well.

One of the other things I'm looking forward to in the time that we're together is a talk about the future of NATO, the capabilities that we can further develop.  I think you highlighted some of the changes that we're making, but we need to talk more about our vision and what we can accomplish in a world that has so many changing threats.  And I think that the timing of these discussions and the June ministerial will give us a chance to advance some of those plans and to build our team.

So looking forward to the discussions today.  Good.