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SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  So Secretary Blinken, Antony, welcome to the NATO foreign minister meeting here in Bucharest.  It’s always a pleasure to meet with you.  And thank you so much for your personal commitment – support for NATO, to our transatlantic bond.

We meet here in Romania, and I think that is very timely and important, because Romania is a neighbor to Ukraine, and we see a war raging on there, a war where President Putin is failing but he’s responding with more brutality, attacking Ukrainian cities, attacking critical infrastructure.  And President Putin – he is now turning winter into a war – or a weapon of aggression against the Ukrainian people, and therefore we need to support Ukraine.  And I’m extremely grateful for the strong support from United States – military support, economic support, and everything you do to help the Ukrainians.

And I’m absolutely confident that the message from the meeting here today and tomorrow will be that NATO Allies will provide and continue to provide unprecedented support to Ukraine.  We need to stand together because it is in our security interest to ensure that President Putin doesn’t win, because that will send a message that authoritarian leaders can’t get their way by using brutal military force.

We also address the challenges that China poses to NATO, to our interests, our security.  And of course, we also meet with Foreign Minister Kuleba from Ukraine but also the foreign ministers from our close partners in Moldova, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

So once again, welcome.  It’s great to see you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.  Thank you so much.  Thank you for bringing us together here in Bucharest.  I agree with you.  This meeting could not be more timely, and it couldn’t be in a better place, for the reasons that you said.

NATO is stronger and more united than at any time I can remember, and I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years.  That’s in no small measure thanks to the leadership of the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who has been remarkable in making sure that our Alliance stays together, united in purpose, united in action.  We will be reaffirming our support for Ukraine as we go forward.  We will be reaffirming our support and the work that we’re doing to strengthen our own Alliance, work that was critically important at the Madrid Summit, and that we’ll now be carrying over to Vilnius next year.

We’ll have two soon-to-be new members of the Alliance – Sweden and Finland – with us for these meetings today.  That’s important as well.  But the fundamental principle that we have and that we brought to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, that we bring to other challenges, including challenges that China poses to our interests, is that we are doing it together; we’re doing it united.  That is NATO’s greatest strength.  It’s the strength that the Secretary General has helped to nurture, and it’s a strength that we’re going to see on display here over the next two days.

Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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