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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès received her American counterpart Antony Blinken at the Egmont Palace today for a first bilateral meeting. Both ministers participated in the NATO ministerial for the past two days. It is Secretary Blinken's first visit to Europe since the Biden administration took office.
The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere and allowed to set out some lines for concrete transatlantic cooperation.
President Biden already indicated that Washington wants to give a central place to multilateralism and dialogue, strengthen alliances with European and like-minded allies, and resume a leadership role in international institutions.
Minister Wilmès is therefore convinced that this visit heralds a new phase in the relationship between Belgium and the US and provides an opportunity to give new impetus to the transatlantic relationship.
Both ministers came back to the attacks in Brussels, now five years ago, and reiterated that Belgium and the United States will continue to cooperate internationally in the joint fight against terrorism. They also discussed concrete avenues for multilateral cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 and climate change and for disarmament and non-proliferation. Minister Wilmès explained Belgium's commitment to NATO and emphasized that a strong Europe can be a useful ally for the United States. Our country is a reliable partner in terms of international security. The two countries cooperate on various military operations abroad, especially within the coalition against ISIS.
Minister Wilmès also welcomed the renewed US engagement in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The complex relationships with China and Russia were also discussed.
At the bilateral level, Secretary Blinken expressed his appreciation for the preclearance agreements that our country concluded with the United States last year and which can strengthen the competitive position of Brussels Airport in the transatlantic air traffic market. The discussion concluded with a preview of the Belgian Economic Trade Mission to Atlanta, Boston and New York, which our country is organizing this fall if conditions permit. This mission will be led by Princess Astrid and testifies to the intense economic relations between the two countries. The United States is our fourth supplier of imported goods and the fourth destination for Belgian exports. Our country is also a major foreign investor in the US. More than a thousand American companies are located in Belgium. Those investments account for more than 125,000 direct jobs.
You can revisit the joint press conference here.
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