Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby provided the following readout:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J.
Austin III spoke by phone this morning with U.K.
Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace and reaffirmed the importance of the special relationship between our two countries.
The secretaries discussed views on confronting strategic issues of mutual interest, including the COVID-19 response, concerns from a rising China, threats from Russia, and ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secretary Austin congratulated the U.K.
for the recent announcement of its largest increase in defense spending in thirty years, noting the importance of that spending to our shared security and the collective security of the NATO Alliance.
Secretary Austin also noted the significance of the recent Joint Declaration for the Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment.
The deployment will include U.S.
Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft deployed aboard the U.K.
aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH for the first time, as well as the inclusion of U.S.
Navy destroyer USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG-68) as a part of a combined carrier strike group.
He noted the significance of this deployment to our bilateral ties and interoperability.
The Secretary expressed his appreciation for the U.K.’s commitment to our defense partnership and emphasized the U.S.
commitment to the NATO Alliance.