Hagel Meets With Senior Saudi Officials

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with senior Saudi officials during a visit to Saudi Arabia today, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement.

Woog’s statement reads as follows:

“This evening, Secretary Hagel visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to meet with the Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“Secretary Hagel and the Crown Prince, who serves as the Minister of Defense, agreed that the United States and Saudi Arabia are firmly committed to their strong defense relationship and discussed the mutual goal of achieving security and stability in the region.

“Secretary Hagel conveyed that the United States is fully committed to its security partnership with Saudi Arabia and seeks to deepen its cooperation even further. They discussed Iran, in the context of the recently concluded Joint Action Plan with the P5+1. Secretary Hagel underscored the United States commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and maintaining a strong American defense presence in the region.

“Secretary Hagel also discussed the proposals he announced at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, in particular to hold a U.S.-GCC Defense Ministerial meeting in the region within the next six months.

“Prior to his meeting with the Crown Prince, Secretary Hagel met with Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Salman bin Sultan. They discussed a number of regional issues including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Secretary Hagel invited him to visit the United States early next year to meet with senior U.S. military leaders.”

Also, according to a senior U.S. defense official traveling with Hagel, the Crown Prince conveyed to Hagel that his second Gulf tour and second visit to Saudi Arabia comes at just the right time, noting that he is leaving tomorrow for Kuwait to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council Ministers meeting and will convey their discussions.

Hagel was told his assurances are well received and that the partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia is as strong as ever, the senior official said.

Hagel’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the senior official said, came at the personal direction of President Barack Obama to convey that the United States will continue planning for all options to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, in the event Iran fails to live up to its commitments.

For Hagel, this trip is second step in a series of engagements with Gulf partners to increase regional cooperation, the first being Hagel’s meeting with GCC Defense Ministers at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the senior defense official said.

The United States is planning that the U.S.-Defense Ministers meeting in the region within the next six months will be the third step, the senior defense official said.
 

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