Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III welcomed new steps to build upon the U.S.-Sweden defense relationship after meeting with Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson yesterday at the Pentagon.
During their meeting, the two leaders signed a defense cooperation agreement that Austin said “will embody our shared commitment to the defense relationship between our two proud democracies.”
“We look forward to learning from each other as we continue to build our defense capabilities together and to strengthen our interoperability,” Austin said.
The defense cooperation agreement establishes conditions for U.S. forces to operate in Sweden, access to deployment areas, and pre-positioning of military equipment, among other items.
Jonson said the agreement “sends a strong signal that we remain committed to addressing security challenges together.
“Being interoperable and being prepared is crucial part of this commitment,” he said, adding that the agreement will stand as a cornerstone of the countries’ defense cooperation.
The two leaders met as NATO member states near their final approval of Sweden’s bid to join the alliance.
During his meeting with Jonson, Austin offered strong support for Sweden’s accession.
“As I’ve seen firsthand, Sweden is already one of our strongest and most capable partners,” he said. “The only thing better than [having] Sweden as a friend is [having] Sweden as an ally. So, I look forward to welcoming Sweden soon as a fellow member of the NATO alliance.”
He noted Sweden’s strengths in maritime operations and distributed air defense.
“When we add the capabilities of the Swedish armed forces to NATO, which is the greatest defensive alliance in history, we will get even stronger,” Austin said.
The secretary also commended Sweden for its leadership in supporting Ukraine.
“Sweden has shown outstanding leadership in supporting Ukraine as it fights Russian aggression, including providing $2.7 billion in security and humanitarian assistance,” Austin said. “Your support and donations have made a huge difference in Ukraine’s battle to defend itself from Russia’s cruel war of choice.
“We will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with Swedish forces in many areas,” he said.