Secretary of Defense Speech

Remarks at Bilateral Meeting with Portuguese Defense Minister Azeredo Lopes


Welcome Mr. Minister, Ambassador Fezas Vital – Your Excellency, Ambassador Glass – it’s good to have our diplomats alongside us for meetings like this. Military officers, members of the delegation, welcome. Minister, it is a pleasure to see you again after meeting for the first time during the NATO Defense Ministerial in May.

You and I inherit a very strong and positive relationship between our two countries. Portugal and the U.S. have enjoyed a long history of cooperation and friendship since as far back as 1790, when the U.S. sent its second-ever consular officer to Portugal. And Portugal was one of the first countries to recognize American independence in 1791.

Our countries have been bound together through NATO since the alliance’s founding in 1949. We have stood together for 69 years. What does this mean to us? It means that we stand alongside each other against those who would do us harm, aware that we are strongest inside an alliance.

The Pentagon’s remembrance of 9-11 yesterday alongside last month’s loss of 15 innocent lives to terrorism in Spain remind us that we’ve got to stay together. They also remind us of the need to increase our commitment to the common defense of our democracies. The security situation is changing, and we must change with it.

We need to look at NATO’s southern and eastern flanks and have a shared appreciation of that situation, both in NATO talks in Brussels and beyond.

Today, I look forward to a healthy discussion about further strengthening our relationship. I don’t believe relationships stay the same. I also look forward to making progress on the two percent Wales pledge and, within the NATO alliance, continuing to carry out our responsibilities to pass freedom and democracy to the younger people growing up, so they can have what we have.

Minister, Your Excellency, members of the delegation, thank you for coming and making the long trip here. It is a pleasure to have you at the Pentagon. You, your officers, and your ideas are always welcome here.

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