Commerzbank Filiale München

Munich, Germany

1:22 P.M. CEST

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Mr. Secretary General, thank you for all of the work that you have been doing over the course of eight years in your role of leadership. 

As I mentioned to you earlier, this is the first meeting that I’m taking in Munich, and that is intentional.  The President and I feel very strongly, as does our country, that our Alliance and our relationship and commitment to NATO is enduring, that it is being highlighted without any question over the course of the last several months.

We believe that the relationship has only strengthened.  And as we go forward, we believe that it will continue to be one of the most critical relationships that we have. 

I also want to thank you for the commitment that you have made throughout your career to the importance of the transatlantic Alliance — understanding its history and understanding its role in terms of international norms and rules, what we must do to ensure security, also with the interests of mutual prosperity. 

Right now, we are obviously dealing with the concern about what is happening in Ukraine.  As a member of NATO, we feel very strongly and will always be committed to the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty. 

I am here to ensure that through our discussions and the discussions I will have with other of our Allies, that we continue, as these hours and days progress, to stay in close contact.

We understand this is a dynamic moment in time.  And so, the work that we are doing on a daily basis and sometimes on an hourly basis — to strengthen the relationship; to check in, in terms of our strategic imperative — is critically important.  And that is one of the reasons that I am here.

So, I thank you again for all that you do and all that you have done.  We remain, of course, open to and desirous of diplomacy as it relates to the dialogue and the discussions we have had with Russia. 

But we are also committed if Russia takes aggressive action to ensuring there will be severe consequence in terms of the economic sanctions we have discussed. And we know the Alliance is strong in that regard. 

And again, I thank you for your leadership as a partner in that effort. 

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  Thank you so much, Madam Vice President.  It’s really a great pleasure to meet you and to be able to sit down and to address some of the very serious and security challenges we face together. 

And NATO remains the cornerstone for our security — the security of Europe and for North America.  And therefore, I’m extremely grateful for your personal commitment to our Alliance, to the transatlantic bond, and also the very strong and staunch commitment to NATO from the Biden-Harris administration not only in words, but also in deeds. 

We see it on the ground in Europe now.  On Friday, I went to Romania and met U.S. troops there.  And they always impress me with their professionalism, their dedication.  And, of course, to have U.S. troops — more U.S. troops in Europe now, in this critical time for our security, really demonstrates the North American and the U.S. commitment to our shared security. 

I also welcome the fact that European Allies are stepping up, also increasing their presence in the eastern part of the Alliance and also investing more in defense.

So, the reality is that North America and Europe are doing more together now than have done for many years. 

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Yes.

SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG:  That’s important to deal with the aggressive actions of Russia, but also to address a more competitive world, the security consequences of the rise of China.  We have to stand together in North America and Europe. 

So, yeah, thank you for your leadership, your commitment, and I look forward to our meeting.  Thank you so much.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Thank you.

END                  1:26 P.M. CEST

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