Remarks by Secretary Tillerson in the joint statement to the media, with the European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini
Well, thank you very much. It’s indeed a pleasure to be back in Brussels, and I think meetings like the one that was just held between the high representative and myself illustrate again the strong commitment that the U.S. has to the European alliance and the important role that the European alliance plays in our shared security objectives, and vice versa as well. The partnership between America and the European Union, I think as everyone knows, is longstanding. It is one that’s based upon shared values, shared objectives for security and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, and we remain committed to that.
I think during our meetings today, as the high representative mentioned, there were a number of important issues discussed and views exchanged. And in particular on North Korea, we appreciate the resolute stance of our European allies to send a message to the regime in North Korea of our we do not accept the nuclear weapons program that they have undertaken and we view that it is an important objective for all that there be a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And again, this economic pressure will continue until either North Korea reverses its course, certainly to encourage talks to get underway to do so.
Our shared objectives in terms of defeating ISIS are important, but not just defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria but defeating ISIS globally. And I think continuing our discussion on joint efforts to combat terrorism wherever it raises its head, and we certainly see the results of ISIS’ caliphate and this long reign of terror that they have carried out in Iraq and Syria which is now coming to an end.
We also discussed, as the high representative mentioned, our joint efforts under the JCPOA to hold Iran fully compliant with the terms of the JCPOA, fully enforce that agreement, but at the same time recognizing that Iran is carrying out a number of other destabilizing actions in the region. And we’ve seen this recently with ballistic missiles being fired from Yemen, which it’s our belief are sourced from Iran; their support for the Houthis, and the destabilizing effect that that has in Yemen. We also know of Iran’s destabilizing effect of exporting weapons and militia to Syria, an area of conflict, and their ongoing support for Hizballah, a terrorist organization. These issues and activities of Iran cannot be ignored and cannot go unanswered, and we intend to continue to take action to ensure Iran understands this is not acceptable to us, and we look forward to working with European partners in that regard as well. It’s a threat, I think, to many of our shared values.
As a NATO member, the United States is very happy and pleased to see NATO-EU cooperation continuing to evolve and deepen since the joint declaration was signed last year, and we’ll certainly have an opportunity for further discussions around that today during the NATO meetings. We know our security is strongest when allies and partners shoulder their fair share of the burden, and that’s why we continue to call on others to increase their defense spending that is towards a shared objective and serves everyone well.
Our European allies are also steadfast supporters of the peace process in Syria. And as the high representative just confirmed, our support for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, a significant effort has been underway as the defeat-ISIS campaign succeeds to move Syria to a process of reconciliation as called for under 2254. And we’re pleased to see talks resume in Geneva under the leadership of the UN Representative Staffan de Mistura and we’ll support those talks in all ways possible to keep those parties at the table to find and chart a new course forward for Syria that will serve the will of the Syrian people.
Like any good relationship, this one requires a lot of attention, and I know the high representative is very committed to this relationship. Her tireless efforts at communication with the United States and the United States Government at all levels is important, and we view it the same. And that’s why I’m here as well today and appreciate the time that she’s given me and the important exchanges we’ve had, and much of this will continue throughout the day as we have a full agenda ahead of us. So thank you.