National Defence Minister Gabriel Les on Monday received the visit of a delegation of the US House of Representatives, made up of Mike Rogers, Scott DesJarlais, Ralph Abraham, Jim Banks and Steven Palazzo, in the presence of US Ambassador in Bucharest Hans Klemm and Chief of General Staff Nicolae Ciuca.
According to a National Defence Ministry (MApN) release, the discussion agenda focused on priority aspects of the military cooperation within the Strategic Partnership between the United States and Romania and the collaboration in an allied framework.
The Romanian and US officials had an opinion exchange on the recent developments in the international security environment, with a focus on the situation in Syria and the Black Sea region. In context, the National Defence Minister underscored Romania’s commitment in the international efforts for counteracting terrorism, as part of the anti-ISIL international coalition.
Minister Les presented the strategic priorities of the government in the defence and security area, focused on the decision to allot 2 percent of the GDP to defence and pointed out, as a significant reference point, the over 40 percent level of the total expenses for defence that is going to be used for procurement of major equipment, including for the research and development area.
He highlighted the special importance that Romania grants to developing the Strategic Partnership with the US and appreciated the sturdy engagement of the US in consolidating the security at the Black Sea, as well as the presence of US troops on national territory, underscoring that it is essential for strengthening the defence and deterrence against all threats and risks to the European security, particularly those coming from the eastern flank of the Alliance.
The Romanian side voiced appreciation for the excellent cooperation in an allied context, addressing thanks for the US contribution to the achievement of the allied presence in the southern region of the eastern flank, in the land, air and sea areas. In respect to implementing the advanced consolidated presence he also pointed out the cooperation with the US partner through assuming the participation of the Romanian armed forces in the battle group under the US command, deployed to Poland in April.
On the anti-missile defence dimension, it was underlined the consistent contribution of the Aegis Ashore system of Romania to the NATO collective security. The US officials pointed out that making the base at Deveselu operational is a primordial project, which reflects the efficiency of the Strategic Partnership, and voiced the appreciation for Romania’s investment and constant commitment in respect to the full integration of the Aegis Ashore system in the Alliance command-control architecture.
The US Congress members highlighted the very good level of cooperation between the armed forces in the theatre of operations of Afghanistan and particularly appreciated the efforts which Romania is making in the line of defence, saying that the 2 percent of the GDP allotment on this dimension has a special strategic significance and contributes to strengthening the transatlantic ties, the fair assumption of responsibilities inside NATO and the consolidation of the overall Alliance deterrence and defence posture.