United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of National Defense Suh Wook to reaffirm alliances.
Austin also spoke by phone with UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace to reaffirm special US-UK relationship.
According to Pentagon statement, Austin and Stoltenberg “discussed the importance of our shared values, the current security environment including maintaining a strong NATO deterrence and defense posture, and the ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
With Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Austin “discussed a broad range of security issues in the Indo-Pacific and exchanged views on ensuring the readiness of the Alliance despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.”
“They also discussed the need to continue implementing U.S. force realignment initiatives including continued efforts regarding the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility in Henoko. Secretary Austin further affirmed that the Senkaku islands are covered by Article V of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, and that the United States remains opposed to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea.,” the Pentagon added.
With ROK Minister of National Defense Suh Wook, Austin “addressed a broad range of defense issues and exchanged views on the security environment on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. Both sides noted the need to maintain the readiness of Alliance combined forces, affirmed the importance of maintaining the rules-based international order, and agreed to enhance cooperation on shared threats.”
“Secretary Austin underscored the U.S. commitment to defend the ROK through both the U.S.-ROK combined defense posture and the U.S. extended deterrent,” the Pentagon said.
With UK Secretary of State for Defense Wallace, Austin “discussed views on confronting strategic issues of mutual interest, including the COVID-19 response, concerns from a rising China, threats from Russia, and ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“Secretary Austin also noted the significance of the recent Joint Declaration for the Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment. The deployment will include U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft deployed aboard the U.K. aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH for the first time, as well as the inclusion of U.S. Navy destroyer USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG-68) as a part of a combined carrier strike group. He noted the significance of this deployment to our bilateral ties and interoperability,” the Pentagon said.