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United States' top military officer visits Gulf region

By the CNN Wire Staff
U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen is to meet with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen is to meet with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
  • The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff is in the Middle East for talks with leaders
  • Adm. Mike Mullen will meet with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Djibouti
  • It is Mullen's second trip to the restive region since last week

(CNN) -- The United States' top-ranking military officer arrived in the Middle East on Sunday for talks with military and civilian leaders in a region where popular uprisings and political turmoil have captured world attention for weeks.

U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. He also plans a short visit to Djibouti, according to a statement released by his office.

The weeklong visit is the second for Mullen since February 12, when he made a weekend visit to Jordan after that country's King Adbullah II swore in a new government amid a wave of protest that has swept the Middle East and North Africa since a Tunisian man killed himself two months ago in protest of high unemployment.

The protests that followed brought about the ouster of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and have since spread to nations across the region.

Bahrain -- the home of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet -- is one of the latest countries to join the protests, but it is unclear whether Mullen will stop there. Among countries he will visit, protests have been reported in Kuwait and Djibouti.

Mullen's office said the trip was planned before the uprisings began, but added that Mullen does plan to talk about the unrest during his visits.

He will "certainly make clear his desire to see that peaceful protest be allowed to continue without threats or violence from any quarter," the statement said.

Mullen plans to participate in anniversary celebrations in Kuwait marking the country's 50th year of independence, as well as the end of the 1991 Gulf War.

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