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Dunford Arrives in Riyadh for Talks With Saudi Leaders

By Jim Garamone

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 7, 2016 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived here today for meetings with national security and military officials.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef.

Saudi and American officers escort Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford from his C-17 after he arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 7, 2016. The general will meet with U.S. and Saudi officials for discussions about issues of mutual concern. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen
Saudi and American officers escort Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford from his C-17 after he arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 7, 2016. The general will meet with U.S. and Saudi officials for discussions about issues of mutual concern. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen
Saudi and American officers escort Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford from his C-17 after he arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 7, 2016. The general will meet with U.S. and Saudi officials for discussions about issues of mutual concern. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen Official Escort
Saudi and American officers escort Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford from his C-17 after he arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 7, 2016. The general will meet with U.S. and Saudi officials for discussions about issues of mutual concern. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen

The general and his counterpart, Saudi Army Gen. Abdulrahman bin Salah Al-Banyan, will meet with Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry officials. Before this, the general will meet with U.S. Ambassador Joseph Westphal and his country team at the American Embassy.

Issues of Mutual Concern

Dunford will discuss issues of mutual concern and listen to the Saudis’ take on operations in the region, officials said, and is also expected to discuss Iran’s malign influence in the region and operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Saudi Arabia is a close ally of the United States in a very troubled part of the world. The kingdom has the largest and best-equipped military force in the region, and the U.S. military has excellent military-to-military relations with the Saudi military, Joint Staff officials said.

Although this is his first visit to Saudi Arabia as Joint Chiefs chairman, Dunford has met with Saudi officials during his term, most recently during a meeting of chiefs of defense from 43 nations at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, in October to discuss operations to defeat violent extremism.

The general arrived here following successful talks with Turkish military leaders yesterday in Turkey’s capital of Ankara.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)