Secretary Mattis Speaks With Israeli, German, French Defense Ministers

In separate calls, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke with his counterparts from Israel, Germany and France, according to readouts of the calls provided by Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

Mattis spoke by phone with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to underscore his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, Davis said. The secretary called his Israeli counterpart during his first week, the captain said, to emphasize his intent to advance the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and to protect Israel’s qualitative military edge.

Mattis and Lieberman also discussed regional security challenges in the Middle East and the need to create common approaches to challenges facing the region, the spokesman said. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship, and look forward to meeting in person in the future, Davis said.

NATO Partners

In his phone conversation with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Mattis introduced himself and exchanged perspectives on defense security issues with one of America’s closest allies, Davis said. The two leaders, he said, discussed the importance of the alliance between the United States and Germany, both bilaterally and as members ofNATO.

Davis said Mattis assured the German defense minister of the United States’ enduring commitment to the NATO alliance. Mattis thanked von der Leyen for her country’s leadership in NATO activities on the eastern flank and in Afghanistan, and acknowledged the role that Germany plays in fighting terrorism, specifically in the counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant coalition, Davis said.

Mattis also cited the strategic importance of Germany as the host to 35,000 U.S. personnel, the largest U.S. force presence in Europe, Davis said. Both leaders, he said, pledged to consult in the months to come and look forward to working together at the Munich Security Conference in February.

Fighting Terrorism

In his phone conversation with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Mattis introduced himself and discussed the long-time allies’ security cooperation, which is stronger than ever as both countries engage side by side in the fight against terrorism, Davis said.

Both leaders agreed to use the joint statement of intent signed in November as a framework to continue this strong relationship, the captain said.

Mattis also discussed the importance of the NATO alliance and counter-ISIL operations, and thanked Le Drian for his country’s continued commitment to both, the captain said.

The two leaders pledged to work closely and they look forward to meeting at the upcoming NATO defense ministerial in February, Davis said.

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