Saudi Arabia urges U.S. commitment to Gulf security

Prince Salman made the remarks during a meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah between visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz urged the United States on Wednesday to remain committed to Gulf security and take into account the “growing security threats” facing the region.

The prince made the remarks during a meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah between visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“We meet today amid persistent threats to the region’s security and stability,” which “necessitate coordination in politics and defense strategies of our countries,” Prince Salman said.

“We hope that it [the United States] will take into account the growing threats to Gulf security and countries, including the quest of some countries to changes the regional power balance in their favor and at the expense of other countries, Prince Salman said.

Among the issues of concern were “political crises” in some Arab states, as well as “attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and meddling of certain states” in the internal affairs of others, Prince Salman said in an apparent reference to Iran.

He voiced hope that “cooperation continues” with the United States, stressing “historic and strategic relations” between Washington and GCC countries have “contributed to cementing security and stability in the region.”

U.S. officials have struggled to reassure Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, over an interim nuclear deal with Iran that the Saudis worry will embolden Tehran.

The energy-rich GCC has also been dissatisfied with Washington's cautious approach to arming rebel forces in Syria.

The U.S.-GCC meeting was expected to offer Hagel a chance “to underscore U.S. security commitments in the Middle East and to reinforce the United States' unstinting policy of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and further destabilizing the region,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said last week.

The gathering would also focus on coordinating “air and missile defense, maritime security and cyber defense,” he said.

After his stop in Saudi Arabia, Hagel is to head to Jordan for talks on the raging civil war in its neighbor Syria.

[With AFP]

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