Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and his Spanish counterpart, Minister of Defense Margarita Robles Fernández, met in Brussels, on October 21, 2021, to reaffirm the strong bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Spain. The Secretary recognized Spain as a steadfast NATO Ally and reliable friend of the United States. He thanked Minister Robles for safely evacuating more than 2,000 evacuees from Afghanistan and temporarily hosting almost 2,600 Afghan evacuees at Naval Station Rota as they made their way to the United States.
The two leaders discussed key global security issues including NATO and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Both leaders recognized the ongoing threat posed by ISIS, and emphasized the importance of NATO’s southern flank. The Secretary highlighted the potentially destabilizing role that malign Chinese and Russian influence can play in Africa. Secretary Austin thanked Minister Robles for Spain’s robust contributions to international security, and welcomed Spain’s leadership in hosting the 2022 NATO Summit. The Secretary also lauded Spain’s commitment to defense industry innovation.