SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: So Secretary Blinken, dear Tony, it’s great to see you again, and thank you for your leadership, for your commitment, and for being such a strong – a staunch and strong supporter of NATO. I would also like to thank you for the United States consulting with allies on a wide range of important issues – on the nuclear issues, disarmament, on Afghanistan, on many other issues over the last weeks, including on the new American post review – and we welcome the outcome where the United States once again demonstrates its commitment to European security, not only in words but also in deeds, and actually increasing the U.S. presence in Europe, demonstrating your strong support for NATO, for the transatlantic unity.
We have a wide range of issues to discuss at the upcoming foreign ministerial meeting – of course, the Russian military buildup in and around Ukraine, and we call on Russia to be transparent, to de-escalate, and to reduce tensions. The irresponsible and inhumane use of vulnerable people by the Lukashenko regime to put pressure on other countries on the border between Belarus and the several NATO Allies, and then also I think we will have an important discussion on Afghanistan on the lessons learned.
So I look forward to a sit-down with you and all the other ministers, and once again, welcome.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Jens, thank you much. And let me just say how grateful the United States is to the secretary general for his remarkable leadership of our alliance. And the work that has already been done and the work that will continue today and into next year is vitally important for fully modernizing the alliance and making sure that it’s able to address the challenges that we face now as well as in the future. And there, the secretary general has really done remarkable work. We’re particularly focused on making sure that the strategic concept that was agreed in principle at the last summit is now brought fully to fruition. We’ll do some work on that over the next day and then certainly over the next months heading into the next summit.
We have a lot of work to be done as well over the next couple of days on everything from arms control and disarmament and nonproliferation to the challenges in the Western Balkans to, of course, what the secretary general just referred to, the very concerning activities by Russia on the border with Ukraine, as well as what we’ve seen in Belarus and the use of migrants as a political weapon. So there is a tremendous amount on the agenda, and I think, Jens, this meeting is exceptionally well timed, both in terms of continuing and deepening the work that’s already been started at the last summit and also making sure that we’re addressing the challenges that we’re facing in this very moment as allies, as partners.
I’ll just conclude by saying I think President Biden’s commitment to NATO, to the alliance, is very well known. It’s longstanding; it’s deep, and he’s made it his number one mission and priority to revitalize American engagement in our alliances, starting with NATO. And so it’s particularly good to be here to continue that effort and to work in close consultation with all of our allies and with the secretary general. Thanks.
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Thanks so much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.