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Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Minister Isik at the Pentagon

April 13, 2017
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Turkey Minister of National Defense Fikri Isik

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Well, welcome to the Pentagon, Minister Isik.  It's a pleasure to see you again so soon after our February meeting in Brussels when we promised we would see each other again soon.  And thank you for making the trip here, because we can once again address our shared security interests.

Welcome, too, to Ambassador Kilic from your delegation.  The United States and Turkey have a long, and deep and enduring security relationship that actual dates back to 1952 from modern times when Turkey became a member of NATO and we fought alongside each other in the Korean War.

This relationship continues today with United States and Turkish military forces working together to counter a wide range of threats to our common security, including terrorism from both ISIS and the PKK.  

Turkey is an essential NATO ally and a vital member of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition.

The integrated coalition air operations from Incirlik Air Base and those brave Turkey soldiers who fought to close the Turkish border from ISIS in Operation -- Operation Euphrates Shield have shown the high priority both our nations place on this campaign.

I also recognize and salute the humanity of the Turkish government and the Turkish people in managing the Syrian refugee flow and the associated humanitarian challenges.  And I commend Turkey for its fast response to ensure the victims of the Assad regime's hateful chloric gas attack received treatment in Turkish hospitals.

I recognize there's more to be done in the midst of the complex war in Syria.  I am confident our nations can address these challenges together because we must work together.  I look forward to strengthening our defense relationship, a relationship that is based on mutual respect between our militaries.

Again, minister, welcome.

TURKISH MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENSE FIKRI ISIK:  I don't need translation, thank you.  

At the outset, I want to reiterate our support and appreciation for the U.S. operation on the (inaudible) and hope that it will deter the regime from its barbaric attacks with or without chemical weapons.

We welcome this operation and recent statements of President Obama  -- Trump.  Following the assumption of this duty -- his duties.  This will be our second meeting with Secretary Mattis.  This is also in line with the necessity to further intensify the coordination and cooperation between the two key NATO allies, in view of the challenge that require common efforts and joint action.  

I'm confident that the vast experience of Secretary Mattis and the leadership he displayed during the conduct of his previous positions will contribute immensely to our joint work.

Today, we will discuss ways and means to eliminate threats emanating from terrorism in our region.  In this regard, we will address outstanding issues an all challenges to regional and into national security, which requires determined and necessary actions from us.

Thank you.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, if North Korea carries out another nuclear test, will the U.S. military respond?

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you everybody.  Appreciate you being here.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, what role will the Kurds play in the Raqqa fight?

SEC. MATTIS:  In regards to North Korea, we are working with international partners in order to defuse the situation.  

But the bottom line is North Korea's got to change its behavior.  That is an agreed condition among the international community nations that are working together on this.

Thank you again, very much.