Mullen Urges Peaceful Resolutions in Middle East

ABU DHABI, Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Feb. 22, 2011 — Cit­ing “a time of enor­mous change” in the Mid­dle East, Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen today chal­lenged region­al lead­ers to step for­ward to ensure dif­fer­ences are resolved “peace­ful­ly, with­out loss of life.”
Mullen met with lead­ers here dur­ing the third stop of his multi­na­tion­al trip to reas­sure U.S. allies amid region­al unrest.

“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 after meet­ing with Moham­mad bin Zayid Al Nuhay­hyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and deputy supreme com­man­der of the nation’s armed forces.

“We dis­cussed a wide array of issues, in great part focused on events in the region, but not exclu­sive­ly,” Mullen told reporters after that meet­ing.

Mullen also met with Staff Lt. Gen. Moham­mad Thani Al Rumaithi, chief of staff for the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates armed forces.

The ses­sions were con­duct­ed at the Abu Dhabi Nation­al Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, which is host­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Defense Expo­si­tion and Con­fer­ence. It’s the largest inter­na­tion­al arms expo in the Mid­dle East, now in its 10th year, and the five-day con­fer­ence attract­ed more than 1,000 com­pa­nies, includ­ing about 110 from the Unit­ed States.

Mullen, who walked briefly through the U.S. pavil­ion fol­low­ing his meet­ings, told reporters his ses­sions here, as well as those ear­li­er this week in Sau­di Ara­bia and Qatar, reflect­ed wide­spread con­cern about events unfold­ing in the region.

He acknowl­edged “anx­i­ety, while at the same time great focus on how to move for­ward in a pos­i­tive way.”

There’s par­tic­u­lar con­cern about vio­lence in Libya, where Libyan leader Moam­mar Gadhafi’s gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary have launched a vio­lent assault on pro-democ­ra­cy demon­stra­tors.

Asked by reporters about the sit­u­a­tion in Bahrain, Mullen praised Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa’s deci­sion to “pull back the forces” and begin a nation­al dia­logue to address protestor’s con­cerns. His deci­sion to engage “has relieved a num­ber of the lead­ers I have talked [with] in terms of eas­ing the ten­sions,” Mullen said.

The admi­ral reit­er­at­ed con­fi­dence in the U.S.-Bahraini rela­tion­ship and Bahrain’s role host­ing the U.S. 5th Fleet.

“I’ve been in touch with our lead­er­ship there in Bahrain,” Mullen said. Bahrain’s sup­port for the 5th Fleet and its peo­ple “con­tin­ues to be very strong, and I look for­ward to that being the case in the future,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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