Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Secretary Williamson in London, U.K.
DEFENCE SECRETARY GAVIN WILLIAMSON: Well, it’s an enormous privilege to welcome you here to the Ministry of Defense. In a few days’ time, both our nations will mark Remembrance Sunday. The U.K. has been the United States’ closest partner for a century now, from fighting in the trenches in the First World War to tackling Daesh today.
So, my first bilateral meeting with Secretary Mattis is a chance to continue strengthening our special relationship. So, we’ve got a pretty busy agenda, I think, ahead of us, but making sure that we’re actually being able to not just back up our relationship with words, but also in actions and deeds.
And we face some major threats, going forward. We have to be constantly vigilant to defeat the Daesh death cult. This year, they’ve murdered citizens in New York, Manchester and London. We must continue to confront increased Russian aggression, and deal with the disruptive and dangerous behavior of North Korea. We must never, ever flinch in the face of aggression.
Second, we need to sharpen our future capability. We’re proud that the United Kingdom is one of only six NATO countries hitting the 2 percent defense spending target, and today, we’re using our budget to spend 178 billion pounds on everything from F-35 fighters to some of the greatest aircraft carriers in the world. As we look to the future, we want to turn shared challenges into greater opportunities to work together.
Finally, we will be bolstering our shared prosperity. We’re proud that the U.S. and U.K.’s defense trading relationship is worth 3 billion pounds a year, and we want to build on that as part of our relationship as a global Britain.
The United Kingdom and the United States, when we are united, quite simply, the world is a safer and better place. And let us make sure that unity continues going forward.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS: Secretary of State for Defense, I would just tell you, Secretary Williamson, that we are committed to everything that you just said; specifically, to strengthening what you and I have inherited here in our respective jobs.
I appreciate you hosting me on my third visit to London as secretary of defense. And I congratulate you on the appointment, the confidence that your country, your prime minister, your queen have placed in you, because your forces are a treasure — a national treasure to the U.K., but one we respect greatly.
And it’s good to continue a conversation after being together for the last two days as well in Brussels. And thank you for the U.K.’s efforts to strengthen deterrence in the North Atlantic, modernize NATO, and increase contributions to defeat ISIS, which I saw in action the last two days at the ministerial.
As Churchill said in 1946, “Should our two nations join forces and convictions in what is called fraternal association, the high road to the future will be clear, not only for us, but for all; and not only for our time, but for a century to come.” And that is the responsibility, I think, that you and I now must demonstrate in how we carry out these jobs.
And in that spirit, the U.K. and U.S. maintain an unmatched, enduring special relationship that is not an artificial or historical artifact. In fact, it’s a pathway for our future. Its exemplified common values and democratic ideals, which I look forward to reinforcing alongside you.
Our countries have more than 200 years of shared history, over a century of shared battlefield experiences, and a robust record of diplomatic cooperation in support of our security interests. And from the Marne in World War I, to the beaches of Normandy in World War II, to the Chosin Reservoir in the Korea campaign, to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria today, our forces are proud to stand alongside yours to face down any enemy.
Today, we face what you just described as a volatile and dynamic security environment, and we stand united in condemning North Korea’s aggressive provocation and violation of international law, the Russian Federation’s violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, and Iran’s destabilizing influence across the Middle East. Together, we send a message of trans-Atlantic resolve.
In the face of today’s challenges, we value the U.K.’s leadership on the European and global stages. For many years, Britain has galvanized the international community through the power of its moral voice, and today, I look forward to strengthening that special relationship in defense of our way of life.
Thank you again, Mr. Secretary.
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