WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2017 —
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Jordan today as part of a trip to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to strategic partnerships in the Middle East and Europe.
Speaking to reporters on his plane, Mattis said he will be meeting with King Abdullah II and the chairman of the Jordanian joint chiefs of staff, Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Freihat.
Discussions are to include shared security interests in Jordan, the secretary said. Mattis, who is on his first trip to Jordan as defense secretary, described the country as an old ally and friend of the United States.
In the talks tomorrow, the secretary is expected to express U.S. appreciation for Jordanian efforts to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and to re-affirm the U.S. commitment to "stand shoulder to shoulder with Jordan in facing regional and global challenges," Pentagon officials said in a statement announcing the trip.
Reaffirming Commitment to Turkey
Mattis is scheduled to meet Aug. 23 in Turkey with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Çavusoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey has many concerns, Mattis said.
"They're a frontline state against terrorists right there in Syria and all the chaos," he told reporters. "They're a frontline state on dealing with refugees, who are traumatized as any as you'll ever find in, I think, the history of the world."
The secretary said he will be reaffirming the U.S. commitment to work with Turkey, collaborate on efforts to address regional security and stability, and continue efforts to find or make common ground on areas of disagreement.
In addition, Mattis said, he wants to better understand and help address Turkey's legitimate security interests, continue straightforward and open dialogue, and ensure that both the United States and Turkey are operating with transparency.
The secretary is expected to emphasize the "steadfast commitment of the United States to Turkey as a NATO ally and strategic partner, seek to collaborate on efforts to advance regional stability, and look for ways to help Turkey address its legitimate security concerns, including the fight against the PKK," the Pentagon statement said. The PKK, designated in 1997 as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, has been responsible for numerous attacks in Turkey.
Supporting Ukraine's Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity
The secretary concludes the trip Aug. 24 with his first visit as defense secretary to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he is scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak and President Petro Poroshenko.
Mattis told reporters he will commemorate Ukraine's Independence Day and will underscore the U.S. commitment to a strategic partnership and support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said he will also highlight the U.S. train, equip and advise efforts to build the capacity of Ukraine's forces.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)