Mattis Assuages NATO Fears, Reaffirms Commitment to Israel's Security

In phone calls to German and French counterparts, American secretary of defense says U.S. committed to NATO; tells Israel's Lieberman of intent to advance U.S.-Israeli defense ties.

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

President Donald Trump's Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called his Israeli counterpart Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday, the Pentagon said in a statement. Speaking with his German and French counterparts, Mattis also stressed America's commitment to NATO. 

Mattis called Lieberman "to emphasize his intent to advance the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and to protect Israel's qualitative military edge," the statement said.

According to the Pentagon, the two leaders discussed regional security challenges as well as the need "to create common approaches to challenges facing the region." Both Mattis and Lieberman reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Israeli military relationship and agreed to meet in the future.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks at a military base on November 12, 2016.
Gil Eliahu

Mattis also spoke with German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen to introduce himself and exchange perspectives on defense security issues of what the Pentagon said was one of America's closest allies.

"The two leaders discussed the importance of the alliance between the United States and Germany, both bilaterally and as members of NATO. The secretary assured the minister of the United States’ enduring commitment to the NATO alliance."

Mattis also specifically thanked Germany for its role in the anti-ISIS coalition and for its hosting the largest U.S. force presence in Europe.

A similar conversation took place with the French defense minister.