“Hungary Is a Strong Ally in an Important Region”

“Hungary Is a Strong Ally in an Important Region” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said.Leon Panetta expressed the United States’ gratitude for the role of the Hungarian Defense Forces in Afghanistan and called the Hungarian troops’ contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) very effective.

At the Friday meeting, Leon Panetta said that “Hungary is a strong ally in an important region”, Csaba Hende told Hungarian News Agency (MTI) in Washington DC. The Minister of Defense called the security policy cooperation between the two states “the flagship of Hungarian–US relations”. Leon Panetta expressed the United States’ gratitude for the role of the Hungarian Defense Forces in Afghanistan and called the Hungarian troops’ contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) very effective, Minister Hende said.

(photo: www.defense.gov)

“The United States has a high opinion of our efforts in the Balkans too, and said thanks for operating the Pápa-based Heavy Airlift Wing, for hosting this very important NATO institution”, the Minister of Defense told MTI. Leon Panetta also emphasized that the Hungarian Defense Forces and the Ohio National Guard have been closely cooperating for 20 years now. The two partners agreed that strengthening the restructuring system of transatlantic relations continues to be an important task, and conducting joint exercises and trainings can be a good means of achieving that goal.

“We also discussed the idea of organizing a large-scale international disaster response exercise in Hungary to mark the 20th anniversary of cooperation between the Ohio National Guard and the Hungarian Defense Forces. In addition to the participating Hungarian and US soldiers, we would like to invite the armed forces of the Western Balkan countries aspiring to NATO membership as well”, Minister Hende said.

The two partners discussed the current situation in Syria, the NATO–Russia relationship and the issues of cyber defense with special regard to the international cyberspace conference to be organized by Hungary in October this year. The US Secretary of Defense said he would pay a visit to Budapest with pleasure. Minister Hende stressed that “the atmosphere of the discussion was very cordial and friendly.”

Speaking on behalf of himself and the Hungarian people, the Minister of Defense offered his condolences to Leon Panetta upon the arrival of the coffins of four US Foreign Service staff – including Ambassador Chris Stevens’ – to Andrews Air Base on Friday. The four Americans had been killed in the attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi. Answering a question from MTI, Minister Hende said that the US partners had not raised the issue of the extradition to Azerbaijan in any form.

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