DJIBOUTI - US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Djibouti on Sunday to visit an important military base at the southern entrance to the Red Sea used as a launch pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia.
The visit, part of Mattis' week-long trip to the Middle East and Africa, comes as the United States has been increasing pressure on militant groups such as al Shabaab in the region.
The US base, which has about 4,000 personnel, is located just miles from a Chinese one, still under construction, which has caused concern to some US officials.
Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation, sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, and also hosts Japanese and French bases.