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SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  Secretary Blinken, dear Tony, welcome back to NATO Headquarters.  It’s always a great pleasure to welcome you.  And let me start by thanking you for everything you do: the continued significant support to Ukraine; the sanctions, the heavy costs you are imposing on Russia and the Russian war machine; and also the strengthening our collective defense here in Europe with more U.S. presence in Europe.

And let me also thank you for your tireless efforts to consult, to coordinate with NATO Allies, and to share intelligence and information throughout this crisis.  The U.S. leadership has been outstanding and is indispensable, and that is of great importance when we face a very dangerous situation with the ongoing war in Ukraine.

So I look forward to sit down with you with the other foreign ministers in NATO and to discuss a wide range of issues today and tomorrow, of course including Ukraine, but also that we are able to sit down with our Asia Pacific partners – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea – and to address the global ramifications of the crisis in Ukraine and how we are going to work together in different areas with our Asia Pacific partners.

And then, of course, tonight, we will start to have a – start our meeting with a discussion addressing the Strategic Concept, which is an important document for NATO, outlining how NATO should continue to be the strongest alliance in history, facing a more dangerous world and the new security reality.

So once again, welcome.  It’s good to have you here.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Jens, very much.  And I was going to say it’s really good to be back, except I feel like we’ve never left.  In fact, I’m going to ask you if there are apartments available at NATO Headquarters, because we’re here so much that we probably need one.  And that actually gets to something that Jens said that is so important.  A hallmark of everything that we’ve been doing in the months leading up to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and in the time since has been our extraordinary collaboration, coordination, consultation on every element of the response.  And that’s exactly what we’re continuing here today and tomorrow.

We set out to do three things if Russia decided to pursue this horrific aggression against Ukraine.  One was to support our Ukrainian partners – we’re doing that.  Two was to put extraordinary pressure on Russia – we’re doing that.  Three was to make sure that we were shoring up the defenses of our own Alliance, NATO, and we’re doing that.  And today, tomorrow, we’ll continue to talk about not only how we can sustain these efforts, but how we can build upon them.

Second, as the secretary general said, we’re also in a period of tremendous importance for the future of our Alliance, not just with regard to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, but more broadly, going toward the NATO summit, a new Strategic Concept that will be very, very much informed by what’s happening now in Europe but also by other challenges that we have to face together as an Alliance.  So this is an important moment for us to come together to continue to do the work leading up to the summit, the new Strategic Concept, working with new partners, all of which we’ll be doing in the next two days.

Finally, let me say, I’m – Jens, I’m grateful for your kind words about American engagement, American leadership, but our expression is “right back at you.”  We would not be where we are absent your extraordinary leadership of this Alliance, and I think that’s evident in the fact that Allies came together unanimously when our leaders met just a couple of weeks ago and asked the secretary general to stay on past his term.  We are very, very grateful that you’ve agreed to do that.  We’ve got a lot of work to do together, and we can continue it right now.  Thank you.



U.S. Department of State

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