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Under Secretary of the Navy Makes First Visit to North Africa

19 November 2020

From Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

Gregory J. Slavonic, performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Navy, made his first visit to North Africa while serving in this capacity, visiting from Nov. 8-12.

WASHINGTON – Gregory J. Slavonic, performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Navy, made his first visit to North Africa while serving in this capacity Nov. 8-12.

Slavonic traveled to Egypt and Tunisia to advance defense objectives pertaining to maritime domain awareness, maritime security and global power competition with two key partners in the region.

Slavonic’s first stop was in Egypt where he met with top U.S. and Egyptian officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen and the Commander of the Egyptian Navy Vice Admiral Ahmed Khaled Hassan Said Ahmed.

“We value our strategic partnership with Egypt, which is based on shared security interests and a desire to strengthen stability in the region. This administration places a high priority on the U.S. — Egypt relationship,” said Slavonic.

While speaking with Khaled at the Ras el Tin Navy Base, Slavonic highlighted how the two countries continue to work together and the appreciation he has for Egypt’s continued participation in exercises such as Bright Star, Eagle Salute and Eagle Response, which aim to enhance interoperability and war-fighting readiness, fortify military-to-military relationships, and advance operational capabilities of all participating units.

“The Egyptian Navy is a valued partner in the region. It is critical that we continue to work together to maintain freedom of navigation as one of our top priorities,” said Slavonic. 

During his time in Egypt, the secretary also met with senior military officials from the Ministry of Defense and made a visit to the Suez Canal Authority, viewing the new marine port and transit building.

In Tunisia, Slavonic participated in a Veteran’s Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony, alongside U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Donald Blome, at the North Africa American Cemetery.

Dedicated in 1960, the 27-acre cemetery is the resting place for 2,841 U.S. military personnel. The cemetery also includes a Wall of the Missing, upon which are inscribed the names of 3,724 individuals who are missing in action. Most of those buried at the North Africa American Cemetery or those memorialized on the Wall of the Missing lost their lives while conducting military activities ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf during World War II.

““It was an honor to be in Tunisia on Veteran’s Day, to lay a wreath at the North Africa American Cemetery, the final resting place of thousands of young Americans whose sacrifices helped open the door for the allied victory in World War II,” said Slavonic. “It is vital that we recognize the brave men and women who have served and are continuing to service their country, leading with character, courage, competence, conviction and commitment.”

In addition to participating in the Veteran’s Day ceremony, Slavonic and Blome also discussed U.S.-Tunisian bilateral efforts.

While in Tunisia, Slavonic also traveled to La Pecherie Naval Base where he met with Tunisian Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Adm. Adel Jehane and other senior Navy leaders to discuss increased engagement opportunities with the Tunisian Naval Forces. Other meetings included a visit to the Presidential Palace, meeting with Tunisian National Security Advisor Abderraouf Atallah and senior members of the Tunisian Air Force.

To conclude the visit, Slavonic spoke at the Tunisian Senior War College to share his perspective on maritime security in the Mediterranean.

“One of the foundational pillars of our National Defense Strategy is to cultivate a robust constellation of allies and partners,” said Slavonic. “We’re looking to work alongside our partner nations forces, leveraging our different experiences and capabilities to uphold the rules-based international order that benefits us all.”

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