Earlier today NATO defence ministers concluded their meeting in Brussels where discussions focused on transatlantic relations, security challenges and increased defence preparedness in the Alliance's eastern and southern areas. Defence ministers also discussed the importance of burden-sharing and the new US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, reiterated his Government's unwavering commitment to the Alliance and strong encouragement to all member states to step up to the plate and increase expenditure towards NATO's joint defences.
"The message carried by Secretary Mattis was clear, concise and very important. Iceland, a founding member of NATO, has contributed to the Alliance in a meaningful way throughout the decades and will continue to do so with an increased impetus. Iceland's newly established national security policy will further frame commitments in this area and our increase in contributions and civilian participation in NATO missions and activities will continue," said Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who attended the meeting.
NATO Ministers also discussed reactions to security threats in the Middle East and North Africa that stem from political instability and conflicts. In this respect, NATO is strengthening its cooperation with partner states in the region, including monitoring and rapid reaction capabilities. Defence Ministers also discussed increased presence of the Alliance in Eastern Europe, the fight against international terrorism, cyber-security and strengthening civilian defences. Ministers agreed to that NATO's strengthened deterrence and defence posture needed to be in line with confidence-building measures as regards relations with Russia. The meeting concluded with a meeting on the Joint NATO-Georgia Commission where Ministers discussed the cooperation programme which is aimed at strengthening reform in Georgia's defence and security sector.