Didier Reynders meets Rex Tillerson in Washington

After two days at the United Nations in New York, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders will be today and tomorrow in Washington DC for political consultations. He met this morning his counterpart State Secretary Rex Tillerson.

The two ministers expressed their revulsion in reaction to the attack which caused so many victims and wounded yesterday in Manhattan (New York). A Belgian women is among the deceased. Three members of a family were wounded and needed to be brought to the hospital. Didier Reynders thanked Rex Tillerson for the professional work of the security and rescue services.

Reynders and Tillerson conveyed their condolences to the families and friends of the victims. They reaffirmed also that Belgium and the United States would continue to collaborate internationally in the fight against terrorism.

The ministers discussed the bilateral relations between Belgium and the United States. Besides the fight against terrorism, a number of other international subjects were also debated: the situation in DRC and in the Sahel, the sanction policy of the US (Iran, North Korea, Russia) and the Complete Test Ban Treaty.

Belgium is convinced of the strength and value of the transatlantic solidarity. Our country is a reliable security partner of the US. Our two countries participate together in various military operations abroad, in particular within the coalition to defeat Daech.

The ministers talked about the stabilization of Iraq. Didier Reynders underlined again the importance of the fight against impunity, a point he had also made in a speech at the United Nations last month.

On Iran, the minister repeated that all parties should remain around the table. He said that Belgium and the EU were committed to the nuclear agreement. According to the Minister, sanctions are a tool and never a goal. Close coordination and follow-up of how the sanctions work is necessary to make sure that these are effective and do not cause unwanted effects.

Didier Reynders defended again multilateralism by promoting the Complete Test Ban Treaty to his American counterpart. Every North Korean nuclear test demonstrates how urgent it is for this treaty to enter into force. The ministers then conversed about the economic bilateral relations between Belgium and the US. Belgium is the 5th European importer of American products and the 6th European exporter to the United States. Our country is also an important foreign investor in the US. More than 1000 American companies are established in Belgium. These investments represent over 125.000 direct jobs. American investments reached back in 2016 their highest level since the financial-economic crisis of 2008.

Didier Reynders will also have a meeting at the White House with Deputy National Security Advisor D. Powell at the White House. He will also meet with high level officials from the State Department, the White House and Congress.

The visit of the Minister to Washington follows those earlier this year of President Donald Trump (24 May) and of Vice-President Mike Pence (19 February).