Gates Visits United Arab Emirates

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)

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