Mullen, Mattis Meet With Omani Counterparts

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)

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