Secretary General Zayani, thank you. I very much appreciate your leadership and the time we have spent today.
Today we held a successful Ministerial of the U.S.-GCC Defense Dialogue – the first meeting of U.S. and GCC defense ministers in 6 years. I suggested we hold this forum last December at the Manama Dialogue, and I again want to thank Crown Prince Salman for hosting this event. I also thank the other GCC defense ministers for taking the time to be here.
The United States maintains strong bilateral defense relationships with our Gulf partners, and we are committed to sustaining those ties. But the security challenges facing this region threaten the region as a whole, and no one nation can address them alone. So the objective of this Ministerial was to address how we can continue to expand security and military cooperation between the United States and GCC nations – and also agree to begin developing specific proposals to advance our common interests.
Today, we did that. We addressed specific actions to continue bolstering stability throughout the Middle East, and to deepen our relationships.
We reaffirmed our commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – and ensuring that its program is exclusively peaceful. While we noted that Iran’s diplomatic engagement has been a positive development, we continue to share deep concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout this region, including its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for the Assad regime in Syria, and its efforts to undermine stability in GCC member nations. That is why we committed to continuing to work together to reinforce GCC defenses and capabilities.
We also discussed the tragic conflict in Syria, and we pledged to deepen our cooperation in providing aid to the Syrian opposition. We agreed that our assistance must be complementary, and it must be carefully directed to the moderate opposition.
We agreed on the need for more cooperation in three areas: more integrated air and missile defense coordination; closer maritime security integration; and expanded cybersecurity cooperation. And I am pleased that we reached agreement that senior DoD leaders and military commanders will work closely with their GCC counterparts to develop the specific proposals I outlined today.
Finally, our dialogue today focused on the importance of sustained multilateral cooperation between the United States and the GCC, and among GCC nations themselves. It underscored the importance of sustaining this cooperation at a high level. And it highlighted the importance of American leadership in helping our friends and our partners – here and around the world – helping them to build common interests and confront common challenges.
Following today’s productive discussions, the ministers have agreed to meet in the region on a regular basis. And I invited our deputies to meet in Washington before the end of this year, allowing us to follow up on our discussions and the ideas proposed today.
The United States is committed to building stronger military cooperation with our partners in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East. And we remain firmly committed…to this region’s security, stability, and progress in the years ahead. Thank you.