Gates, Saudi King Discuss Defense Relationship

RIYADH, Sau­di Ara­bia, April 6, 2011 — The bilat­er­al mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and Sau­di Ara­bia, progress in a major arms sale and con­cerns about Iran are among the top­ics Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and Sau­di King Abdul­lah are dis­cussing in a meet­ing here today, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said.
Gates arrived here late this morn­ing for the lat­est in a series of vis­its that have tak­en him to six oth­er coun­tries in the region since mid-March.

“The sec­re­tary has devel­oped and enjoys an excel­lent rela­tion­ship with King Abdul­lah,” Mor­rell said, “to the point where he has been invit­ed to, essen­tial­ly, drop in on the king when­ev­er he’s in the region. He has been try­ing to take advan­tage of that kind invi­ta­tion over the last cou­ple of years.”

Sau­di Ara­bia is the No. 1 con­sumer of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary hard­ware, Mor­rell not­ed, and part of Gates’ dis­cus­sion with the king about the U.S.-Saudi mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship will cen­ter on progress in final­iz­ing a recent $60 bil­lion arms sale agree­ment.

Gates and the Sau­di monarch also will share their per­spec­tives on the recent polit­i­cal devel­op­ments in the region, Mor­rell told reporters trav­el­ing with the sec­re­tary, a dis­cus­sion that inevitably will include Iran.

“Clear­ly, when­ev­er [the sec­re­tary] vis­its the Saud­is or any­one else in the region,” he said, “Iran will be a major focus of their con­ver­sa­tion –- both in terms of the region­al threat they pose in pur­suit of their nuclear pro­gram [and] their bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram, but also in terms late­ly of the role they’ve been play­ing in try­ing to exploit the unrest in the region to their advan­tage.”

A senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cial said Gates planned to encour­age King Abdul­lah to con­tin­ue mov­ing for­ward in work­ing with the Unit­ed States on bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense coop­er­a­tion and naval mod­ern­iza­tion as they dis­cuss the mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship between their coun­tries.

Gates’ impres­sions from his recent vis­its to the region in the midst of wide­spread unrest also will be among the top­ics the sec­re­tary dis­cuss­es with the king, the offi­cial said. “He’ll be shar­ing his per­spec­tives on how we see the region,” the offi­cial said. “I think he will reaf­firm the administration’s dual-track approach to the unrest. At the most gen­er­al lev­el, we’ve been con­sis­tent on the artic­u­la­tion of basic prin­ci­ples: the right of free speech, the right of assem­bly, the right of asso­ci­a­tion, the absolute oblig­a­tion by all par­ties — secu­ri­ty forces and pro­test­ers alike — to refrain from vio­lence, protest peace­ful­ly [and] respond to the protests peace­ful­ly.

“It’s also our judg­ment that giv­en this polit­i­cal earth­quake rock­ing the region,” he con­tin­ued, “it’s ulti­mate­ly in the inter­est of all of the lead­ers in this part of the world to get out ahead of it –- to imple­ment gen­uine reforms.”

That view applies in gen­er­al terms for the region, the offi­cial added, but on a spe­cif­ic lev­el, the path toward reform and the tem­po of changes will vary.

“It depends on what makes sense in any par­tic­u­lar coun­try -– what’s pos­si­ble, what’s real­is­tic, what the oppo­si­tion is demand­ing, what’s with­in the realm of the con­ceiv­able,” he explained. “In a lot of these cas­es, it’s real­ly an evo­lu­tion­ary approach, as opposed to a rev­o­lu­tion­ary approach to reform, that might be appro­pri­ate.”

The offi­cial said Gates will note that nei­ther the Unit­ed States nor Iran start­ed the tur­moil that has rocked the Mid­dle East, but the Ira­ni­ans are try­ing to exploit the sit­u­a­tion. “And our eyes are wide open about that,” the offi­cial added.

In this vis­it and dur­ing oth­ers the defense sec­re­tary has made in the region, the offi­cial said, Gates has stressed the val­ue of strate­gic part­ner­ships in meet­ing com­mon chal­lenges such as extrem­ism, pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass destruc­tion, the bal­lis­tic mis­sile threat and mar­itime secu­ri­ty. Those com­mon chal­lenges pre­date the cur­rent tur­moil in the region, he not­ed, and they remain as chal­lenges going for­ward.

“None of that has changed,” the offi­cial said. “All of those rea­sons for our strate­gic part­ner­ship are the same today as they were six months ago, or a year ago, or two years ago. What has changed is the region­al con­text, and one of our shared inter­ests is in sta­bil­i­ty –- sta­bil­i­ty of our key part­ners and sta­bil­i­ty in the region.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →