Shanahan, French Counterpart Discuss Syria, Iraq During Pentagon Meeting

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan welcomed French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly to the Pentagon today for talks centering on activities in the Middle East.

The minister received a 19-gun salute upon her arrival at the building’s River Entrance, and the Marine Band played both nations’ national anthems.

In their meeting, Shanahan said, he and Parly would discuss their common efforts in Iraq and in Syria. France has been supporting efforts “indirectly in Syria and directly in Iraq,” he said. “I do have some further comments on Syria: We’re working closely with the Turks. They are a strategic partner. More importantly, we are on plan for a drawdown in Syria. We are in close coordination with our [Defeat-ISIS] coalition partners on the real details of the plan.”

The secretary said he is ready to answer questions that France has about the progress in the region and what the American actions will be there moving forward.

Shanahan has met with Parly on other occasions since becoming acting secretary in January, with meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels and at the Munich Security Conference in February. Shanahan said he has been looking forward to the opportunity to have more in-depth discussions with the French.

France is the United States’ oldest ally — without French help in the American Revolution, the 13 colonies could still be part of the United Kingdom. Shanahan said France is America’s “partner of choice,” and he noted that French and American service members serve together every day in many climes and places throughout the world.

French leadership is essential in many areas of the globe, including the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, Africa and, of course, Europe. Shanahan praised France’s efforts to deter Russian aggression. “We are staunch partners in countering violent extremism in all corners of the globe,” he said at the start of the meeting between the defense leaders.