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American Forces Press Service

Panetta Hosts First Official U.S.-Netherlands Defense Meeting

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta hosted a Pentagon honor cordon today for his counterpart from the Netherlands during the two leaders’ first official bilateral meeting.

The secretary and Dutch Minister of Defense Hans Hillen discussed the new U.S. defense strategic guidance, bilateral defense cooperation issues, and ongoing operations and plans for transition in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby said.

The Netherlands has contributed troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2003. Currently, 183 Dutch troops are deployed to Regional Command South and the capital region, according to ISAF officials.

Panetta and Hillen also discussed U.S. force posture in Europe, the upcoming NATO defense ministerial meetings to be held in early February in Brussels, and the NATO 2012 Summit scheduled for May in Chicago, Kirby said.

While discussing NATO issues, the spokesman added, Panetta recognized and praised the Netherlands’ “traditionally strong voice and leadership in the NATO alliance.”

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