Wednesday, May 10, Vilnius – President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to discuss bilateral cooperation, strengthening of regional and transatlantic security, and the implementation of deterrence measures.
The President underlined that the United States was a strategic ally of Lithuania who played a major role in the region by guaranteeing security and providing the most effective deterrence for the Baltic states.
Dalia Grybauskaitė pointed out that the visit of the Secretary of Defense to Lithuania sent a clear message that the United States placed special focus on Lithuania’s, Latvia’s and Estonia’s security. Close and intensive relations with President Donald Trump’s administration, established from the very start, demonstrate that the United States understands very well the emerging external threats and challenges, and assesses them exactly like the Baltic states.
The President underscored that Lithuania highly valued America’s continued strong support. The United States has deployed a brigade of troops and heavy weaponry in the region on a bilateral basis to rotate across the three Baltic states and Poland. A company of soldiers and armaments that include tanks “Abrams” and infantry fighting vehicles “Bradley” are presently stationed in Lithuania.
According to the President, a permanent presence of U.S. troops, its leadership in ensuring regional air defense and joint decisions in response to the military capacities in Kaliningrad, which are capable of restricting the freedom of maneuver of NATO forces, would reinforce the security of Lithuania and the other Baltic states even more.
Preparations for the NATO summit set for the end of May in Brussels were also discussed. The summit will focus on further strengthening the Alliance. The President said that it was necessary to speed up NATO’s decision-making process, to regularly update its defense plans based on actual military capabilities and to step up the fight against international terrorism.
Dalia Grybauskaitė emphasized that appropriate defense funding was an investment in peace. Lithuania delivers on its commitments very responsibly and consistently increases defense spending. Next year, it will exceed NATO’s two-percent GDP benchmark.
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