Remarks by Secretary Mattis at an Honor Cordon Welcoming Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, France, to the Pentagon
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, France
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS: Well Minister Parly, we welcome you and Ambassador Araud, thank you for being here. Military officers, members of the delegation, you are very welcome here in the Pentagon. And I especially appreciate the opportunity to meet again after our short discussion in Brussels.
And I would have to note at this point that following the ambush of U.S. troops in Niger last week, just thank you for your support and for your letter of condolence for our fallen following the attack. In the U.S. military, we have deep appreciation for France's expression of solidarity.
And we are grateful that we continue to stand together. We are also grateful that you've called following the hurricanes that hit in the Caribbean and our southern coast, and your offer of assistance during those difficult days.
And we here know that relationships never stay the same. They either get better or get weaker. And we are absolutely committed to making them stronger, the relationship that you and I have inherited in our respective jobs, Minister.
Also, just a reminder sometimes to go back to first principles. And as of yesterday marked the anniversary of when our troops together first fought in their first big victory, as this young upstart country was granted its independence as a result of the Battle of Yorktown.
And our troops marched together then under General Washington, General Rochambeau and General Lafayette, they were brothers in arms then, they remain brothers in arms today. Because from the Revolutionary War did General Pershing's statement of Lafayette.
We are here and the 100 year anniversary that was beautifully celebrated in your capital of Paris back in July with President Trump present. I would just tell you that our relationship has endured through thick and thin, through good times and bad times.
And I think it's a shared spirit of liberty, fraternity, and equality. Of the protection of liberty that we both are committed to, a spirit of fraternity that is demonstrated by our militaries toward each other on many battlefields.
But also a spirit of equality, of respect for each other as equal democracies in this world. And today, France remains one of the United States military's strongest allies, from Operation Barkhane to counter-terrorism efforts in Africa's Sahel region.
To leading by example at the Wales Pledge, having committed to increase defense spending to two percent, and France remains our security partner of choice today.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Drian wrote, we are, quote, "committed to strengthening the historic partnership between France and the United States in the face of shared threats."
And those threats transnational terrorism, certainly we have threats to NATO from the south and North Korea's reckless provocations and great power in competition. We have read your letters, Madam Minister, and we were cheering on this side of the pond.
Today, we will discuss pragmatic steps of how we can further strengthen our security relationship on these and other issues. And I look forward to hearing your thoughts on security situation and the issues that concern you the most.
So Madam Minister and members of the delegation, thanks to you again and you are most welcome here, each of you. Madam Minister, if you'd like to say a few words. I know we're wearing out your voice on this trip.
MIN. PARLY: Well, I would be delighted. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It's an honor for me to be here, that's my first visit to Washington D.C. It’s my first (inaudible) as minister for the armed forces of France. Again, I would like to celebrate the quality of the relationship that we have together.
It's not new, it comes from history. That it's still and it's a day to day corporation that you experience. We do a lot of things together. We thank you for the support you are giving to us; support in the fight with (inaudible) yourself, and also what we did together in the Levant in Syria and Iraq.
And that matter is of course something I'd like to discuss with you because today of this week is a very good week. Raqqa fell, so this is something that we -- we were expecting for such a long time that the day it happens, we have to celebrate that, even if we know that the fight against terrorism is not yet won.
But it's not only a symbolic success, symbolic for the French particularly, because the -- the orders and the instructions to start the terrorism against Bataclan in Paris came from people who were based in Raqqah. So this is something which is extremely meaningful for us. But it's -- we -- we, together, won a battle but not completely the war. And so what comes next is of course something I would like very much to discuss with you.
And we have also major concerns, as you mentioned, with Iran, with North Korea, which I will share with you. So these are the many topics among others that we could discuss.
SEC. MATTIS: Absolutely.
FRENCH MINISTER FOR THE ARMED FORCES FLORENCE PARLY: Thanks again.
SEC. MATTIS: Thank you, Madam Minister, and we'll ask the press to excuse themselves.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is it true you wanted to get the FBI involved in the Niger investigation, why? And Madam Minister, why didn't you just bomb the militants that were attacking during the Niger attack?
SEC. MATTIS: Thank you very much.