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    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing on the campaign to defeat ISIS at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017

    Pentagon Chief Mattis to Visit Ukraine in August

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    US Defense Secretary James Mattis will visit Ukraine on August 24, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Mattis will arrive in Kiev on August 24 and will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Pahon said.

    The US secretary of defense aims to reiterate during bilateral discussions the Trump administration's continuing commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to improving the strategic defense partnership between the United States and Ukraine, according to the Pentagon.

    In a press release, the Pentagon said the trip will come after Mattis visits Jordan and Turkey from August 21-23. He is expected to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lieutenant General Mahmoud Freihat in Amman to discuss the fight against the Daesh terror group (banned in Russia).

    In Turkey, Mattis will meet his counterpart, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to the release.

    Among the topics discussed at the meeting will be Turkey’s efforts to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is a proscribed terror group in both Turkey and the United States. Ankara alleges the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a major US ally in the counter-Islamic State operations, is connected to the PKK.

    Earlier Friday, Turkey’s Haberturk television channel reported that Mattis will also meet Russian Armed Forces General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov for talks on Syria.

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