Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby provided the following readout:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met Italy’s Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini today at the Pentagon to reaffirm the close cooperation between our countries in coalition operations, basing, and defense technology.
Secretary Austin thanked Minister Guerini for Italy’s robust contributions and for being an “exporter of security” that is willing to take on leadership roles to address security challenges across the globe.
The leaders also discussed Afghanistan, where Italy served as a Framework Nation for the entire 20-year coalition mission there. Secretary Austin specifically highlighted Italy’s critical role in working with the United States to evacuate our citizens, partners, and at-risk Afghans, including Italy’s temporarily hosting thousands of Afghan evacuees prior to onward travel to the United States.
The leaders looked forward to deepening U.S.-Italy defense cooperation in both the bilateral context and at NATO. Secretary Austin and Minister Guerini also discussed strategic competition, with a focus on Italy’s expanding security role in the Mediterranean and Africa. They discussed ongoing operations in the Middle East, where Guerini affirmed that Italy will assume command of the NATO Mission in Iraq in 2022. Secretary Austin also thanked Italy for its longtime contributions to, and leadership in, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.