Abu Dhabi // The top-ranking US envoy to the Middle East will visit the UAE within the next week as part of a trip to the Gulf aimed at promoting "commitment to long-standing partnerships in the region" and "democratic principles".
Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, left Washington on Tuesday for an eight-day trip. Mr Feltman will travel to Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, as well as Kuwait, where he is scheduled to attend a celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of Kuwait's independence and the 20th anniversary of the country's liberation from Iraqi troops by US-led coalition forces.
Mr Feltman will "reiterate to leaders that, while each country is unique, recent events in the region underscore the critical need to address calls for social, political and economic reform in a peaceful, inclusive and transparent manner", the US state department said in a statement.
Dr Ebtisam al Kitbi, a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University, said the visit would accomplish the dual purpose of pushing for political reforms and reassuring allies.
"After Bahrain, maybe the US needs a road map to see how the Gulf is going to deal with the potential problems," Dr al Kitbi said.
Last month, Mr Feltman was dispatched to Tunisia after the removal of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to meet with senior officials and opposition leaders.
"I certainly expect that we'll be using the Tunisian example" in talks with other Arab governments, he told reporters then, according to the news agency Agence France-Presse.
The diplomat's trip to the Gulf is expected to run through March 2, but no word was given on when he will arrive in the UAE.