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Speech by President Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before the bilateral meeting

Speech by President Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before the bilateral meeting
Speech by President Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before the bilateral meeting

 


PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, Mr. Secretary General, welcome back to the Oval Office.

I have to say ahead of time, I will miss you. I will miss you.

You know, I believe this is one of the most important moments for Europe since World War II. I think you do too. NATO was founded 75 years ago and – I think the lessons we've learned then and to stand together to defend and deter aggression have been consequential.

And we have made NATO – you – under your leadership – – we have made it bigger, stronger and more united than ever. So, I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary General, for the extraordinary work you have done.

Together, we deterred further Russian aggression in Europe. I think we – well, I know we've welcomed Finland and Sweden into the Alliance. And we have strengthened NATO's eastern flank, making it clear that we defend every inch of NATO territory well.

And, Jens, we – a very important announcement to make today: A record number of allies are meeting NATO's commitment of at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. And, in fact, the number has doubled since we took office – since I took office.

And I'm looking forward to building on all of that progress next month when we have the 75th meeting here in Washington.

And I look forward to our discussion today.

So I want to thank you for being here. We have a lot to talk about. And I mean honestly, you've been amazing. I only wish you to extend your mandate for another 10 years.

You are doing a terrible job, seriously.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Thank you.

President Biden, dear Joe, thank you so much for your kind words – the words. And thank you very much for your personal commitment to NATO, to our Transatlantic Alliance.

And, also, many thanks for hosting the NATO Summit here in Washington, DC, next month. At that summit, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the most successful alliance in history, but we will also make important decisions about the future – not least on the issue and importance of investing in our security.

And today, we are able to release new figures on defense spending. They show that across Europe and Canada, NATO allies are increasing defense spending by 18 percent this year. This is the largest increase in decades. And 23 allies will spend 2 percent of GDP or more on defense this year. This is more than twice as much as four years ago and shows that the European Allies and Canada are indeed stepping up and taking up their share of shared responsibility to protect all of us in the NATO Alliance.

It is also important for the United States to know that much of this money is actually spent here in the United States. Allies are buying more and more equipment from the US So NATO is good for US security, but NATO is also good for US jobs.

Mr. President, and I also thank you for your strong leadership in Ukraine. And congratulations on the bilateral security agreement you signed with President Zelenskyy, with Ukraine.

European allies are also stepping up and matching US contributions, military support for Ukraine. And I expect that when we meet here next month, we will agree to have NATO in the lead role in providing security assistance and training and also that the Allies will agree to increase financial and military support for Ukraine . This will reduce the burden on the United States and strengthen our support for Ukraine.

I think it's important to understand that the stronger our support for Ukraine is, the sooner this war can end, because the sooner President Putin realizes that he can't wait for us.

It is in — supporting Ukraine is not charity. Supporting Ukraine is in our security interest. Therefore, I welcome the strong commitment of all NATO allies to continue supporting Ukraine.

So once again thank you very much. Thank you for hosting me once again – me here in the Oval Office. And I'm looking forward to the NATO summit in Washington, DC, next month.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you, friend.

Thank you very much, everyone.

(Cross talk.)

PRESIDENT BIDEN: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

4:18 PM EDT

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