Albanian Defense Minister Olta Xhacka said that Tirana wants more investments by the US military industry in Albania, after a US company launched work on the installation of the Integrated Air Surveillance System (SIVA) in the Balkan country.
US aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin currently is working on the SIVA system in Albania, which has been a Nato member since 2009. The contract to buy the system was approved in November 2017.
“The integrated air surveillance system is important, not only for the national security of Albania, but for all in the Nato alliance,” Xhacka said in a defense ministry statement on April 17.
During her visit to the US, she also met US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Pentagon. Mattis reaffirmed the strong defense relationship between the US and Albania.
Mattis praised the significant contributions Albania has made to global and coalition operations, including nearly 300 personnel serving in four major Nato operations.
He also praised Albania’s recent increase in defense spending and its plan to meet the pledge alliance nations made at Nato’s 2014 summit in Wales to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense by 2024.
According to some media, Xhacka said that Albania wants to see a US military presence established in the Balkan country in order to counter influence from nations such as Russia.
"You can count on us to be a very trusty ally ... Albania could really be a stronghold of the US in the region. We believe that the time might be ripe for a footprint of the US in Albania," Xhacka was cited by AFP.
Xhacka also mentioned China, Iran and Turkey as countries whose influence Albania wanted to counter.
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