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Mattis to step down as Pentagon chief

US Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis (c) listens to President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House on Oct. 23, 2018. EFE-EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo/File

US Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis (c) listens to President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House on Oct. 23, 2018. EFE-EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo/File

EFE

US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that Gen. James Mattis will leave the post of defense secretary.

“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!,” the president added.

The news came a day after the Trump administration said that the full withdrawal of US forces from Syria was under way, a move opposed by Mattis.

Shortly after Trump’s announcement on Twitter, Mattis released the text of his resignation letter.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” the retired four-star general wrote.

“While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Mattis continued in what appeared to be criticism of Trump’s penchant for unilateralism.

The departing Pentagon chief also called for the US to be “resolute” when dealing with Russia and China.


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