MUSCAT, Oman, Feb. 24, 2011 — Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, met here today with their Omani counterparts to discuss defense matters of mutual concern, Mullen’s spokesman reported.
Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, and Mattis participated in talks aimed at promoting regional stability and enhancing friendly relations between the United States and Oman, Navy Capt. John Kirby said.
Also while in Oman, Mullen and his top commanders responsible for carrying out the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy met yesterday with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to discuss regional security issues and explore new ways to better coordinate military operations.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Navy Adm. Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, also participated in that day-long session, officials confirmed.
Mullen’s visit to Oman occurred less than three months after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ visit in December.
Gates met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman’s monarch for the past 40 years. A senior defense official traveling with Gates during that trip said the sultan is widely respected in the Gulf region and has been active in seeking a diplomatic solution to issues in Iran that are causing concern among neighbors and other nations.
Oman sits at a highly strategic position in Southwest Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf between Yemen and United Arab Emirates. Iran lies to its north, across the Gulf of Oman.
The chairman’s visit to Oman is the fourth stop in his week-long trip through the Middle East during regional unrest and what he called “a time of enormous change.” Before arriving in Muscat, the chairman visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to confer with regional leaders. At each stop, he reported concern deep concern about unrest, particularly violence in Libya.
Mullen called Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s crackdown on demonstrators there “unacceptable” and reiterated his call for local leaders to step forward and resolve differences peacefully.
Tumult in Libya and elsewhere in the region was expected to be a major agenda item as Mullen and Mattis, the commander responsible for U.S. military activity and engagement in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Central Asia, met with Omani leaders here.
The chairman said he is particularly interested during his trip in hearing regional leaders’ views of unfolding events.
“I really came to the region to both listen [and] to understand what the concerns are on the part of the leaders who are here, as well as reaffirm the relationship and look at how we address these issues together,” he told reporters in the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)