Remarks By Secretary Mattis at enhanced honor cordon and meeting welcoming His Royal Highness Mohammad Bin Salman, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to the Pentagon

Secretary Of Defense James N. Mattis; His Royal Highness Mohammad Bin Salman, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS:  Your Royal Highness, Ambassador, members of the delegation, just welcome back to the Pentagon.  We have a very good, very strong and very much improving every week, every month relationship between our military.

And it's a pleasure to have you and your delegation here, Your Royal Highness.  Our two nations enjoy a long-standing relationship with each other.  Seven U.S. presidents have traveled to meet with the Saudi Royal Family since the end of World War II.

And President Roosevelt met with King ibn Saud aboard the USS Quincy in 1945 at Bitter Lake.  Few could have predicted the enduring friendship that would form between our two nations.  Up through the United States and the Kingdom, we have stood with each other, working together over decades.

As President Trump said when he visited Riyadh during his first international trip abroad, we build on that friendship as we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens from both countries.  And I look forward today, Your Royal Highness, to writing some of that new chapter alongside you.

With our spirit of cooperation, we will continue to work together to bring unity, stability and security to the region, to fight terrorist organizations and to deter Iran's maligned activities.  As you discussed with President Trump on Tuesday, we must also reinvigorate urgent efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the civil war in Yemen, and we support you in this regard.

The appointment of a new U.N. special envoy to Yemen is an opportunity to accelerate a political solution to resolve this conflict.  Because that can provide the regional stability necessary to protect your nation and deny terrorists the safe haven they seek by steady conditions for all Yemeni citizens' human rights.

Your significant amount of humanitarian aid is critical to help the innocents caught up in this conflict, and we applaud you for that.  I also welcome your continued efforts to transform the Ministry of Defense, ensuring that Saudi Arabia military remains fit for our times.

And I'm pleased at efforts to formalize the relationship between your Transformation Management Office and our Defense Security Cooperation Agency are moving forward.  Today we further bolster the cohesion and increasingly strong military-to-military relations between us.

And Your Royal Highness, you and your officers and their ideas are welcome here in the Pentagon.  So I wish you invigorating travels during the remainder of your extended visit to the United States and our west coast.  Again Your Royal Highness, welcome to you, Your Excellency, to you and your delegation.

If you'd like to say a few words here to the press.

CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for this warm welcome.  And as you mentioned, the relationship indeed is longstanding and historic.  And it will continue for the long run.

Especially that we share the challenges as well as the benefits.  Today we are working on many things as to combat the threats facing our nations.  Especially with the Pentagon.  And under the leadership of you, Mr. Secretary, the cooperation has improved tremendously between the two Ministries of Defense.

And we will continue doing so in the future.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, Your Royal Highness.  And to members of the press, if you'll excuse us, we'll get down to work.  Thank you very much for coming out.

Q:  Are you going to raise concerns about civilian casualties in Yemen during the meeting?

SEC. MATTIS:  We have been working very hard with the new U.N. envoy to end the fight in Yemen.  And we believe that Saudi Arabia is part of the solution.  They have stood by the United Nations-recognized government, and we are going to end this war.

That's the bottom line, and we're going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen, but also security for the nations in the peninsula.  But thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for coming up.  Appreciate it.