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Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Minister Lourenco at a Memorandum of Understanding Signing at the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Well, welcome to the Pentagon, Minister Lourenco.  And thank you for championing the presidential approval for the memorandum of understanding.

With this memorandum, we're taking the first steps toward a strategic partnership that will enhance the security cooperation between our two nations.

Here in front of the press, I want to acknowledge Angola's steady leadership in world affairs, most recently as a member of the United Nations Security Council, and in hosting the 2015 International Conference on Maritime and Energy Security.

We recognize this was an important step in the Yaounde code of conduct to increase regional cooperation in protecting against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, and your leadership -- your country's leadership in seeking stability in Central Africa, specifically in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

And with this memorandum, we begin building a long-term partnership based on mutual respect.  We will have information exchanges, training for officers in each other's country, ongoing visits between our leaders and mechanisms to train for peacekeeping.

We will also continue to work closely with our African partners in the defense against terrorism.

We look forward to building a mutually beneficial partnership with you, Minister Lourenco.  As the African proverb goes, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

Thank you again for coming to visit us in America and we look forward to the discussion.

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JOAO LOURENCO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Excellency General James Mattis, secretary of defense of the U.S., the distinguished generals and the senior officers of the Department of Defense of the U.S., Ambassador Helen La Lime, I would like on my own behalf and of the delegation that accompanies me to take the invitation that the U.S. government has addressed to us, to receive the U.S. with the main objective, but not only to sign the MOU on the (inaudible) between our two countries.

Different, that we just cleared out -- a few minutes ago -- of signing the MOU, it is the main legal tool that will enable us to strength (sic) the bonds of cooperation between our -- our two difference (sic) forces.

General James Mattis made it possible to have authorization of His Excellence President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for the signing of this MOU.  I would like to let you know President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was very pleased, and he gave -- gave us the full powers in writing so we could comeand sign this MOU.

That's because we see over -- we see this cooperation with the United States as a very serious commitment.  We believe that both country (sic) will benefit from this cooperation.  The United States is well known as the biggest power in the world -- doesn't need any -- any presentation.

But -- but Angola is also a very important country.  Its size and the -- also in the region in Africa where it is – the way it borders between two very important regions, the position  between the southern African region and the central Africa region.  We are located in the Gulf of Guinea, and on which a -- United States have a -- a very important supporter to that region.

We are very much committed on fighting terrorism in generally (sic), but most important in that particular region of Africa, of -- in the Gulf of Guinea.

We are very much engaged in trying to help the countries in the Great Lakes region to find the lasting peace in particular, in the Central African Republic, that is living with the instability for long years now, but also in the DRC and in Burundi.

Angola is currently the chairperson of the Great Lakes region conference until December this year, and we will play our -- final role to try to find lasting peace to all these countries.

We engaged on this commitment, and we believe that once this MOU that we have signed -- (inaudible) -- forces, we believe, with partnership of U.S., we'll be more able to -- to trying to find lasting peace on the Great Lakes region and also in the central Africa region.

So, Mr. James Mattis, secretary of defense of U.S., thank you very much for allowing us to come for this meeting and the signing of this MOU that will possibly ease the cooperation between our armed forces and ministry of defense.  Thank you very much.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, sir.

And for all of you here, if you remember back to Angola of 25 years ago, and then you look at Angola's bright future today, the difference between Angola of 25 years ago and Angola today is the leadership that Minister Lourenco and others provide, and that creates the bright future Angola has today.  And that's a future of genuine peace and prosperity that they can look forward to, and I would add, with America's respect and support.

Thank you again for coming, Minister Lourenco.  And thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the press.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, have you reassured your Israeli counterparts that any information -- (inaudible) -- that they provide will be safeguarded by the United States?

SEC. MATTIS:  We always have safeguarded information from our allies and there's nothing that has caused them to question it.  We've received no questions at all.

Q:  From the Israelis or any of your other counterparts?

SEC. MATTIS:  We've received no questions at all from anyone.


Q:  Mr. Secretary, nonetheless, and I would ask the minister as well, if I might, the world (inaudible) seems a little unsettled right now by the American admittedly political situation.  For the minister, in your country, sir, are people following the situation in Washington?  Do you believe there is some, perhaps, unsettlement in your government about what is happening in Washington with the administration?

And Mr. Secretary, in your dealings as you set off again going to NATO, what are your reassurances?  If they're not asking you, what reassurances are you prepared to give the countries, the ministers you encounter? 

But for the minister of Angola first -- (inaudible).

MIN. LOURENCO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Indeed, we follow up the situation around the world.  Indeed also in the United -- the U.S.  As a politician, we have -- (inaudible).  But we consider that whatever problems the American administration is facing are internal situations on which we don't want to comment. 

We believe -- (inaudible) -- American politician will overcome in due time these challenges that they are facing right now.

SEC. MATTIS:  As you heard from the minister -- from Minister Lourenco, we maintain steady military relations with our friends, our partners, our allies.  There's been no disruption whatsoever.  Everything is quite steady.  And it's a stable situation going forward, including into NATO.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

One last question.  Go ahead.

Q:  Until now, we haven't heard any details -- (inaudible) -- administration on -- (inaudible) -- African country.  Can you give a little more information about -- (inaudible)?

SEC. MATTIS:  From the American point of view, and I can speak more broadly than just the Department of Defense, Africa is a region, a continent full of potential.  And we look at it as a place that we want to support the kind of leadership that we find here in Minister Lourenco and the government in Angola. 

And the reason we're signing this memorandum of understanding is to show that we can make common cause going towards the future that fulfills their full potential right now.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Thanks very much.