Remarks to press by Secretary Mattis Prior to an Enhanced Honor Cordon Welcoming Indian Minister of Defense Sitharaman to the Pentagon

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS: So how are you doing? What's on your minds?

Q: Well, so you were going to meet -- you're obviously going to meet your Indian counterpart.

SEC. MATTIS: Yeah.

Q: One quick question on India: They have sealed the deal for the S-400 with the Russians.

SEC. MATTIS: Yeah.

Q: We talked about it when you were in New Delhi. Do you expect them to get the waiver?

SEC. MATTIS: Yeah, you know, India has spent many, many years in its non-aligned status. It's drawn a lot of weapons from Russia. We have a growing strategic confluence of interests with our country and theirs, the two largest democracies in the world. And we're here today to talk about all the issues that bring us closer together, and we'll sort out all those issues here today, and in the days ahead. We have obviously two plus twos that go on, where we look at the broader issues at the same time with State Department and their Department of External Affairs. So we'll work all this forward. This is the normal collaboration and consultation that we have with each other.

Q: On the border, have you signed the request reports for all the 4,000 who remain at the border?

SEC. MATTIS: On the (inaudible), OK.

Q: Have you re-signed -- signed the...

SEC. MATTIS: The question has to do with the troops. There's a request for extending troops on our own southwest border, and no, I have not signed off on it. Joint Staff has worked it with their military factors and my OSD policy staff has worked the policy matters. I expect that to be on my desk probably within 24 hours.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Mr. Secretary, the president tweeted this morning -- he tweeted this morning that the U.S. is in a major and unstoppable arms race with China and Russia, and so the fact that we spend $716 billion on defense is, in his words, "crazy."

STAFF: The delegation is arriving now, sir.

SEC. MATTIS: OK. Yeah. I've not seen the tweet. I'll have to get back to you.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: What would you say about the heroism of President George H.W. Bush, Mr. Secretary?

SEC. MATTIS: As a young man, he proved his valor in the toughest circumstances, and for the rest of his life, he was the same kind of public servant, committed to us all.

OK, I've got to back off here.

Q: Thanks, sir.