June 20th, 2015 11:39 EST
Ash Carter to Meet With Counterparts in Germany, Estonia, Belgium
By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
Defense Secretary Ash Carter will travel to Germany, Estonia and Belgium this week to hold bilateral and multilateral meetings with European defense ministers and to participate in his first NATO ministerial as defense secretary, senior defense officials said today.
On Monday morning in Berlin Carter will highlight the importance of a united NATO and a strong U.S.-German relationship in remarks there at the Allianz Forum. Afterward he and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will have a bilateral meeting, the officials said.
Later that day Carter will travel to MÃ¼nster, Germany, to visit the 1st German-Netherlands Corps, the land component of NATO`s Interim Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, with his German, Dutch and Norwegian counterparts, the officials added.
Meetings with Counterparts
On Tuesday in Tallinn, Estonia, Carter will meet with Estonian leaders and commemorate Estonian Victory Day. He will also meet with defense ministers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the senior defense officials said.
While in Tallinn, Carter will visit U.S. sailors and Marines aboard the USS San Antonio, which participated as the lead U.S. ship of the 43rd BALTOPS sea exercise, a recently concluded multinational exercise held annually since 1971, they added.
On Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels, Carter will attend the NATO Defense Ministerial. There he will discuss U.S. commitments to the NATO alliance, officials said.
New Security Environment
On Friday the secretary will return to Germany to attend an exercise that includes more than a dozen nations and is hosted by the U.S. Army at the Grafenwoehr training area, a major Army installation in the town of Grafenwoehr, Bavaria, they added.
In this important month for the alliance, senior defense officials said, Carter will hear directly from ministers, defense leaders and service members about progress made since the Wales Summit to address the new security environment, including challenges from Russia and NATO`s southern front, and discuss future actions to enhance alliance effectiveness.
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