Mattis, Czech Minister Discuss Defense Collaboration
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with Czech Republic Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky at the Pentagon today to discuss U.S.-Czech defense collaboration, focusing on the counter-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria campaign and Afghanistan, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.
Mattis thanked Stropnicky for his country's contributions to the counter-ISIS fight, highlighting the positive difference Czech air advisory and surgical teams are making in Iraq. They discussed other potential Czech contributions to the campaign.
Mattis told the Czech minister that his country’s assistance in the counter-ISIS campaign “is heartening.”
The defense secretary added, “It shows you stand with the civilized nations of the world. Your ground troops in the Baltic and your policing. You're a full-fledged member of NATO, as are we, and now on that common ground we welcome you here, so again, welcome, and the floor is yours.”
Mattis also thanked Stropnicky for his country’s assistance in combating terrorism, noting, “NATO is beading together on this.”
He added, “And certainly, we look forward to standing strong with our bedrock alliance all the way through on this fight.”
Stropnicky thanked Mattis, adding, that he’d “like to underline that for us, the membership in the [NATO] alliance is absolutely crucial … and it's one of the main pillars of democratic development after 1989, after the democratic changes, and that we of course want to remain on that track.”
The Czech defense minister also said his country agrees to fair burden sharing among NATO member-nations. Such an arrangement, he said, is “absolutely logical and fair, so that's one of the main reasons I'm here.”
Mattis also thanked Stropnicky for his country's long-term commitment in Afghanistan. Both he and the minister pledged to consult further at the upcoming NATO defense ministerial.