US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Wednesday reaffirmed message that the United States intends to revitalize relationship with the NATO Alliance.
“Our commitment to Article 5 remains ironclad,” Austin said, in his first participation in the NATO ministerial meeting today, according to statement by the Department of Defense.
He described the NATO as the bedrock of enduring trans-Atlantic security. The Alliance serves as the bulwark of “our shared values” of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, he said.
Secretary Austin emphasized that NATO’s most important task is to protect “our populations” and territory by presenting a credible deterrence and strong defense.
The Secretary thanked Allies for the seventh consecutive year of growth in defense spending and noted the importance of building on this progress.
He also encouraged his colleagues to fulfill the 2014 Wales Summit Defense Investment Pledge where all Allies agreed to move toward spending two percent of GDP on defense and 20 percent of defense funds on modernization by 2024. On the ‘NATO 2030’ initiative, the Secretary supported the overarching goals of ensuring the Alliance remains strong militarily, becomes stronger politically and takes a more global approach.
He welcomed recognition by NATO Allies that China’s growing influence and international policies present challenges to trans-Atlantic security and looks forward to working together to address these challenges.
Secretary Austin welcomed the unique opportunities offered by increased NATO Partnership with the European Union, including efforts by EU countries to build capabilities that add value to our trans-Atlantic security.
Source: Kuwait News Agency