ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 9, 2010 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here today to meet with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nubayan.
It’s the latest stop in an overseas trip that has taken the secretary to Oman and Afghanistan, as well as to the deployed aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
“Secretary Gates is happy to be back in Abu Dhabi to meet with our close friend and ally, the crown prince,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.
It’s the secretary’s fourth meeting with the crown prince since he became secretary, and their second since March, when Gates was last here, Morrell said.
“They will discuss a range of bilateral and regional security issues — everything from defense cooperation to challenges that we are working together to try to solve,” he added.
Morrell said Gates will update the crown prince on the situation in Afghanistan, where the United Arab Emirates is contributing forces. “He’ll likely discuss the situation in Iraq, as well as Yemen and certainly Iran as well,” he said.
The crown prince is deputy commander of his nation’s armed forces and a leading national security official, a senior Defense Department official told reporters this week. The official said that as with Gates’ visit to Oman, his visit here has no particular agenda, but simply provides a chance for the secretary to meet a valued ally while he was in the region for his trip to Afghanistan and the USS Abraham Lincoln. It’s also an opportunity, he added, to continue U.S. efforts to encourage more cooperation among nations in the region.
“The idea is taking as the starting point that the region increasingly sees the same challenges: piracy, terrorism, ballistic missile proliferation, [weapons of mass destruction] proliferation,” the official said. “The regional security architecture is oriented around the fact that if you have all these common interests, you should have more avenues for multilateral cooperation, which is historically not something that there has been a lot of in the Gulf.”
Most countries in the region have bilateral relationships on these issues with other nations, the official said. “And so, in integrated air and missile defense, shared early warning, maritime task forces [and] counterterrorism cooperation, the idea is to leverage the fact that we have different forms of bilateral cooperation in all of these issues with most of these countries to gradually, over time, show them the benefits of starting to stitch their efforts together.”
The official said that although inroads are taking place for multilateral cooperation in issues such as piracy and maritime security, the concept is mainly “aspirational” in other areas at this point.
The secretary’s meeting with the crown prince is scheduled to take place this evening.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)