BRUSSELS – The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said on Monday he was confident that the US secretary of state would confirm his country’s strong Transatlantic bond during an upcoming NATO foreign ministers summit.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made his comments in relation to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a press conference in Brussels.
“I look forward to welcoming him and that he confirms the strong transatlantic bond,” between the US and NATO, Stoltenberg said prior to a two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting that starts Tuesday.
The NATO chief’s response was a reaction to a journalist’s question regarding Tillerson’s possible resignation in the coming weeks or months.
“The US is our biggest ally and it is always important what the US does,” said the Norwegian politician, who assured that Tillerson would participate in a “wide range of important issues” such as the role of “NATO’s fight against terrorism, Afghanistan, NATO-EU cooperation or NATO’s open door policy” for new members.
Stoltenberg pointed out that Tillerson had a “strong personal bond with the Alliance” and had expressed “ironclad” US commitment to the Alliance.
“A commitment that we not only see with words by Rex Tillerson and the US administration but we see it also in actions,” he said.
Stoltenberg said the US had significantly reinforced its military presence in Europe with more troops, equipment, and supplies to protect the Alliance’s Eastern Flank.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said: “we have been working for weeks” preparing a NATO meeting with Tillerson’s team, and confirmed “there has been no change whatsoever.”
Regarding Tillerson’s role in North Korean nuclear and ballistic tests, Stoltenberg said one of the key points was to convey a “message of dissuasion” and deterrence to find a “peaceful solution” preventing a military confrontation.
“I don’t think both things contradict each other,” he added.
Tillerson will arrive in Brussels on Tuesday to attend both the NATO foreign ministers meeting and a European Union ministers meeting.