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Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Defense Secretary James Mattis, vows to strengthen alliance with US

  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Saudi Arabia's powerful young prince Thursday at the Pentagon.
  • Saudi Arabia is one of America's key strategic partners in the Middle East and a significant patron of U.S. defense companies.
  • Mattis emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship amid the destructive civil war in neighboring Yemen.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Saudi Arabia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., Mar. 22, 2018.
Source: Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm | DoD
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Saudi Arabia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., Mar. 22, 2018.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday at the Pentagon as part of an effort to strengthen one of America's most important strategic alliances.

The 32-year-old prince, who spoke through a translator, said his nation's cooperation with the United States would continue to grow.

"Under the leadership of you, Mr. Secretary, the cooperation has improved tremendously between the two ministries of defense, and we will continue doing so in the future," the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Mattis emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship and noted efforts to address malignant Iranian activities and the civil war in Yemen, which neighbors Saudi Arabia to the south.

In 2015, a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen against Iran-aligned Houthis, who ousted the recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The now-three-year campaign is estimated to have killed 10,000 and displaced more than 2 million people.

"As you discussed with President Trump on Tuesday, we must also reinvigorate urgent efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the civil war in Yemen, and we support you in this regard," Mattis said to the prince.

When the secretary was asked whether he would discuss civilian casualties in the war in Yemen, Mattis reiterated the U.S.' aim to end the war.

"We have been working very hard with the new U.N. envoy to end the fight in Yemen, and we believe that Saudi Arabia is part of the solution. They have stood by the United Nations-recognized government, and we are going to end this war, that is the bottom line," Mattis said. "We are going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen but also security for the nations in the peninsula."

President Donald Trump noted during an Oval Office meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed that Saudi Arabia's oil-rich monarchy is a significant patron of U.S. defense companies.

President Donald Trump welcomes Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Donald Trump welcomes Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018.

"Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they're going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world," Trump said Tuesday.

"There's nobody that even comes close to us in terms of technology and the quality of the equipment, and Saudi Arabia appreciates that," Trump added.

The Saudi delegation is slated to meet with the CEOs of Lockheed Martin and Boeing during the nearly three-week-long trip across the United States.