Hagel: US-Iran talks ‘not at cost of Gulf security’

ALL-WEATHER FRIENDSHIP: Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, receives US Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel in Jeddah on Tuesday. They discussed major regional and international developments and explored prospects of expanding cooperation between the two countries. (SPA)

ALL-WEATHER FRIENDSHIP: Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, receives US Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel in Jeddah on Tuesday. They discussed major regional and international developments and explored prospects of expanding cooperation between the two countries. (SPA)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Wednesday promised Saudi Arabia and other GCC states that US negotiations to contain Iran’s nuclear program would not weaken their security.

“First, these negotiations will under no circumstances trade away regional security for concessions on Iran’s nuclear program,” he said while addressing a meeting of GCC defense ministers in Jeddah.

The Pentagon chief added: “Second, while our strong preference is for a diplomatic solution, the United States will remain postured and prepared to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon — and that Iran abides by the terms of any potential agreement.”

Even if Tehran backs out of the nuclear negotiations, Hagel said, “the US remains committed to our Gulf partners’ security.”

Hagel’s reassurance came after Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense called for stronger military cooperation between the US and the GCC, whose security he said is threatened.

“We meet today amid persistent threats to the region’s security and stability,” which “necessitate coordination in politics and defense strategies of our countries,” said Prince Salman. “The security of our countries and our people are in danger,” added the crown prince.

Among the issues of concern were “political crises” in some Arab states, as well as “attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and meddling of certain states” in the internal affairs of others, he added.

He voiced hope that “cooperation continues” with the US, stressing “historic and strategic relations” between Washington and GCC countries have “contributed to cementing security and stability in the region.

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