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Remarks By Secretary Mattis in an Enhanced Honor Cordon and Meeting Welcoming Qatari Minister of State for Defense Al-Attiyah to the Pentagon

Nov. 13, 2018
Secretary Of Defense James N. Mattis; Qatar Minister of State for Defense Dr. Khalid Al-Attiyah

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS:  Welcome Your Excellency, Minister of Defense Dr. Khalid, Your Excellency Sheikh Musa and all the officers and members of the delegation, you're welcome here, as you know from previous visits in some of your cases.

But Dr. Khalid, it's a pleasure to welcome you back to Washington, even if it's a chilly day out there, you have a warm welcome here in the Pentagon.  To you, we recognize not only a warrior and a fighter pilot, but also a scholar of the law and a seasoned diplomat.

In Qatar, we recognized a long-time friend and military partner for peace and stability in the Middle East and a supporter of NATO's mission in Afghanistan, and here I must note Qatar's recent highly successful delivery of materials from Hungary to NATO's mission in Afghanistan is proof of your global reach.

Thank you for Qatar's efforts in support of peace and stability in Afghanistan and our efforts towards reconciliation of that too long war.  I must also thank you for graciously hosting the U.S. forces at Al Udeid Air Base, home to our combined air operations center, where together we work with 15 nations to bolster regional security and our shared commitment to combating extremism.

Today, I look forward to your insights on how we can advance that security, for we are aligned in seeking a region where all live and resolve disputes peacefully with neighbors, respecting sovereign internal policies.

As I highlighted recently in Manama, the United States supports exploring an inclusive Mid East strategic alliance, a concept borne in your region and one that brings together all partners to address shared challenges.

We are committed to working by, with, and through allies and partners across the region to make this concept a reality and to deter hostile actors.  Before I close, I note that the USS Essex recently completed a very successful port visit to Doha, where her crew and her Marines experienced Qatar's well-known hospitality.

This is a testament to our steady military-to-military relationship.  Qatar's work in another port city bears testament to our broader U.S.-Qatar relationship -- the port of New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Qatar gave generously in disaster aid.

You repeated this generosity after Hurricane Harvey damaged our Gulf Coast in 2017.  We in the U.S. military do not forget those who help our people in times of need.  Dr. Khalid, thank you again for coming, you're most welcome here.

If you'd like to say a few remarks in front of the press here, you're more than welcome.

QATAR MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENSE DR. KHALID AL-ATTIYAH:  Thank you.  Secretary Mattis, thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be among you here today.  I am especially pleased to be here during the salute that this country gives to its brave men and women who have served their country with valor and dignity.

The service veterans have given to their country can never be repaid, but it can be remembered and honored.  

We also say Happy Birthday to the Marines for the impressive two, four, three -- 243 years of courageous (inaudible).

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you.

MIN. AL-ATTIYAH:  Qatar and the United States have joined a historic and strategic partnership built on a mutual respect and shared vision of a better tomorrow.  We have worked closely with our partners in the United States and more specifically with our friends here at the DOD in strengthening the relationship and pushing it further.

Today, we reflect on the great military-to-military partnership we have built, and discussed way in which we can further strengthen and develop this partnership to the betterment of both of our nations.  Qatar and the United States have stood together many times in force -- in face of aggression and in support of freedom, both in my region and across the world.

The state of Qatar has spared no effort to supporting mission aimed at provided relief and justice whenever needed.  We have been a trusted partner in the fight against terrorism and have always answered when called upon by our partner to join the global effort of peace and security building.

I look forward to what ensures to be a fruitful and constructive discussion and thank you all for receiving me today, General Mattis.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, Dr. Khalid, good to see you.  And ladies and gentlemen of the press, if you could excuse us, we'll get down to work, but thank you for being here today.

Q:  Secretary Mattis, one question on the border, sir?  Do you plan to visit the border soon, and if so, what would you seek to learn there?  And at what point do you think a cost estimate for this operation will be available?

SEC. MATTIS:  We'll update you on costs as they become known.  Obviously the units executing the border mission have got to report to my men up here, but we are capturing the costs.  I'll visit the border tomorrow.  

Hey, thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen.


Q:  ... if I may, (inaudible).  Minister Al-Attiyah, of course there are Middle East strategic alliances as part of the discussions with the United States.  Under the current circumstances in the region, especially with the situation with Qatar being under a blockade, do you -- do you see any path or way forward in -- in the near future?

MIN. AL-ATTIYAH:  Well actually I am here today to discuss our mutual cooperation and the way forward, and this is what's, to be honest with you, concerning me today, how to alleviate our relation and mutual cooperation together with the United States.  Thank you.

Q:  Mr. Secretary?  Minister -- Minister, can I ask you about the Khashoggi recordings that have been reported?  Do they represent conclusive proof that the Saudi government was behind the killing of Mr. Khashoggi?  For both of you please.

SEC. MATTIS:  Yeah, we don't discuss intelligence matters in public, but thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, have a good day.