By Lisa Ferdinando
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2017
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis began a visit to Saudi Arabia today to discuss efforts to strengthen commitments to the U.S.-Saudi security partnership.
Saudi Arabia has been a key security ally for more than seven decades, Mattis said en route to the kingdom. The country remains a «pillar of our security framework for the region and for American interests,» he told reporters traveling with him.
Discussions with King Salman and his principal subordinates will include the country’s security situation and «how we can deepen and broaden our strategic relationship with them,» the secretary said.
After concluding his Saudi Arabia visit, Mattis will travel on to Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Djibouti.
The aim of the five-nation tour, Pentagon officials said in announcing the trip, is to reaffirm key U.S. military alliances, engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and discuss cooperative efforts to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations.