Hagel to Attend Middle East Defense Ministerial
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will attend a regional defense meeting in Saudi Arabia next week during what will be his third trip to the Middle East since taking office.
Hagel departs for Saudi Arabia May 12 where he will take part in a U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council defense ministerial in Jedda before going on to Jordan and Israel, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.
The trip is intended to advance America’s regional strategy, and to coordinate efforts among allies and partners to address common security challenges.
The meeting with the GCC will be the first since 2008, and it will provide an important and timely opportunity for the United States to step up cooperation with Gulf nations, “as we confront common regional security challenges related to Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq,” Kirby said.
The ministerial is designed to strengthen multilateral security cooperation in the region and will focus on air and missile defense, maritime security and cyber defense.
“It is also an opportunity for the secretary 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,” Kirby said.
Hagel will then move on to Jordan. “This visit will highlight U.S. commitment to the defense of Jordan, where more than 1,000 U.S. personnel are on the ground working closely with Jordanian defense authorities,” the admiral said.
The final stop is Israel where the secretary will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon.
“The secretary and Minister Ya'alon will discuss critical regional and bilateral security issues, including the United States and Israel’s cooperation on rocket and missile defense,” Kirby said.
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