Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s Phone Call With Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar

APRIL 1, 2021

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone today with Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar to underscore commitment to the U.S.-Turkish bilateral defense relationship and collective security through NATO.

The Secretary thanked Minister Akar for the significant role Turkey is playing as part of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and in support of the ongoing peace process there.  The two leaders also discussed the positive diplomatic developments and efforts to reduce all tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the Secretary welcomed ongoing exploratory talks between NATO Allies Turkey and Greece and the commitment of both governments to this process.

Secretary Austin also highlighted cooperation among Allies and partners in the Black Sea, including recent exercises that included the USS Monterey and USS Thomas Hudner and Turkish naval assets. Secretary Austin and Minster Akar discussed the instability along NATO’s Eastern and Southern Flanks, including challenges posed by Russia. Secretary Austin noted the importance of working to strengthen U.S-Turkey military-to-military cooperation, and urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 missile defense system.