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US Defense Chief Welcomes Saudi Offer on Troops in Syria

  • Reuters

FILE - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses the U.S. troops as he stands in front of a drone at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, Dec. 15, 2015.

FILE - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses the U.S. troops as he stands in front of a drone at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, Dec. 15, 2015.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomed on Thursday a Saudi offer to participate in any ground operations in Syria launched by the U.S.-led coalition.

Carter said increased activity by other countries would make it easier for the United States to accelerate its fight against Islamic State militants.

"That kind of news is very welcome," he told reporters while on a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Carter said he looks forward to discussing the offer of ground troops with Saudi officials in Brussels next week. He said the Saudi government has indicated a willingness to do more in the fight against Islamic State, which controls vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

The Pentagon chief also said the United States was watching events in Libya very carefully but had made no decision on expanding its role there.

Islamic State forces have attacked Libya's oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a power vacuum in the country where two rival governments have been battling for supremacy.

Carter said the focus was now on political change in Libya, where the warring administrations are expected to form a unity government.

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