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Remarks by Secretary Mattis at Top of Meeting with Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed Bin Salman at the Pentagon

March 16, 2017
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed Bin Salman

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES MATTIS:  Please, everybody have a seat.  Please.

Well, welcome.  

Your royal highness, excellencies, distinguished members of the kingdom's delegation.  Welcome to the Pentagon.  

Mindful of our legacy, our relations between our two nations go back to when your king and our president met on board a U.S. cruiser in Bitter Lake in 1945.  So, this does not start with us here at the table, and certainly it will not end with us here as we continue the legacy that was established by President FDR and by King Ibn Saud.

The warmth of that relationship has held firm through good times and bad times over many, many years -- 70-odd years now.  And it's been the basis for an indispensable economic and security partnership together.  The kingdom's regional leadership providing stability to the region and our military-to-military relationship remains steady and consistent.

And I appreciate your vigorous leadership, Your Royal Highness, your political commitment and your willingness to broaden and deepen the kingdom's support for our common efforts.  But again, welcome to you and your delegation.

DEPUTY CROWN PRINCE AND MINISTER OF DEFENSE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN  (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for making us feel welcome today at the Pentagon.  

The Saudi-U.S. relation is longstanding and it's been there for the past 80 years.  And the cooperation between us was very positive to deter and counter the challenges facing both of us.  And we've gone through very important historical phases.

So the challenges facing us today are not the first challenges to face our two nations.  Today, we are facing a very serious danger in the region and in the world, either when it comes to the hostile activities of the Iranian regime that has supporting the extremists and terrorists in the region and around the world, or the challenges posed by the terrorist organizations.

We in Saudi Arabia are at the front line in facing these challenges.  Any terrorist organization, their primary target to recruit and spread their ideology is to start with Saudi Arabia, the house of -- the holy city of Mecca.  Once they put their hands on Saudi Arabia, they will get access to the entire Islamic world.  That's why we are the primary target.

That's why we suffer the most.  That's why we need to work and cooperate with our allies.  On top of the list comes the United States, the leader of the world.  Today, we are very optimistic under the leadership of President Trump and we believe these challenges will be easy to tackle under the leadership of the president.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you again, shukran  Thank you very much, sir.

And for the press, thank you very much.

Q:  Your highness will be putting ground troops into Syria?

MIN. BIN SALMAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  We are ready to do anything that will eradicate terrorism, anything without limits.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you.  Thank you again.