WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2017 —
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met today with his counterparts at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss efforts to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Appearing with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the closed meeting, Mattis underscored the importance of the bloc.
"The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the transatlantic community, bonded as we are together," Mattis said.
President Donald J. Trump has strong support for the alliance, he said.
It is a fair demand, Mattis said, that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom.
"We should never forget ultimately it is freedom that we defend here at NATO," he said.
The defense secretary said he plans to have an "open conversation among friends and allies about where we're going and our shared level of commitment."
The defense ministers, he said, will also be discussing the "course of the alliance and the future."
NATO faces challenges that are the "most complex and demanding in a generation," according to Stoltenberg. Those challenges, he said, cannot be tackled alone by either Europe or the United States.
"A strong NATO is good for Europe; a strong NATO is good for North America," Stoltenberg said, adding he welcomes the "U.S. commitment to the transatlantic bond."
After the meetings in Brussels, Mattis is scheduled to travel on to Germany, where he is to attend the Munich Security Conference on Friday, according to a Defense Department release.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)