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Washington
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Before Their Meeting

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  Secretary Blinken – Dear Tony – welcome back to NATO.  It’s always good to see you here.  And thank you for leadership; thank you for your strong commitment to our Alliance.  Today we all started our foreign minister meeting, and we have addressed how to strengthen our support to Ukraine to create a more – even more robust framework for our support.  And I thank you for your strong commitment, your personal commitment, commitment of President Biden to ensure that the United States continues to be a lead nation in supporting Ukraine. 

Then burden sharing is always top on our agenda.  When NATO made the pledge to invest 2 percent of GDP on defense back in 2014, only three Allies met that target.  Today, two-thirds of NATO Allies are spending 2 percent of GDP on defense.  That’s significant progress, but of course we want more Allies – we want all Allies to be at 2 percent, and 2 percent is a minimum.  So this is a message that I and we all convey very strongly as we prepare for upcoming Washington Summit. 

Then tomorrow we will also meet with our Asia-Pacific partners, and I think the war in Ukraine demonstrates how intertwined the security of Europe is with the security of Asia and the Pacific.  North Korea, China, Iran are supporting Russia’s war of aggression in different ways, so this demonstrates that security is not regional security, it’s truly global, and therefore it’s important that we work together with our Asia-Pacific partners.  And again, thank you for the strong U.S. leadership on also – on this issue. 

Then lastly, tomorrow we will celebrate NATO’s 75th anniversary.  We’ll actually meet tonight at the Truman Hall, but also then tomorrow we will mark it here at the NATO headquarters.  And then we will also mark the 75th anniversary at the NATO summit in Washington in July.  Thank you for hosting the summit, and it will be a great summit to celebrate the Alliance, but also to ensure that we continue to adapt and to ensure that NATO continues to be the most successful Alliance in history.  So Tony, welcome.  Always good to have you here.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Jens, thank you so much.  And as always, I have to start by telling you how much we appreciate – more than appreciate – we’re grateful for your extraordinary leadership of this Alliance at what is an extraordinary time.  But as a result of that leadership, we have an Alliance that we will celebrate in a couple of months in Washington for the 75th anniversary summit, an Alliance that is stronger, bigger, and more united than ever. 

And as the secretary general said, tomorrow, as we begin to formally celebrate the 75th anniversary, of course we’re looking back at the first 75 years, but the work today, the work tomorrow, the work at the summit is really about the next 75 and everything that we need to do now to ensure that this Alliance remains what it has been – as Jens said, the most successful in history – a defensive alliance with no designs on the territory of any other country but with a determination to protect the territory of each of its members, and to do it in a way that is – has been unique in human history, based on the principle that we have each other’s backs, that if one of is the victim of aggression, all of us will be in to help. 

And that’s the most effective way to actually prevent aggression from happening in the first place, and to create an environment in each of our countries where people don’t have to worry about security in that sense and they can make the most of their lives and reach their full potential.  That’s really what this Alliance is all about.  But it requires constant renewal, constant effort; it doesn’t just happen by itself. 

And so the work that we’re doing today to prepare for the summit, to ensure that everyone is picking up their share of the burden, to make sure that the Alliance has the capabilities and the capacity to contend not just with the problems we’ve had to face over the last 75 years, but so many news challenges – some of which the Secretary General alluded to – that we have to confront now, and to make sure that countries continue to do their part as well when it comes to helping Ukraine deal with the ongoing aggression from Russia.  All of these things are front and center. 

So we’ve had a very good session today focused on preparations for the summit and the substance of the summit.  More to follow with Ukraine, with our partners, and with the ongoing work to strengthen our Alliance for the future.  But once again, none of this would have been possible as effectively as we’ve seen it without the leadership of the secretary general.  Jens, thank you.

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  Thank you. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you. 

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  Thank you. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, everyone. 

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-and-nato-secretary-general-jens-stoltenberg-before-their-meeting-9/

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