x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Crown Prince meets with Gates to review military ties

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has met with the US defence secretary Robert Gates in the capital.

ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met with the US defence secretary Robert Gates in the capital yesterday, the state news agency WAM reported.

The men discussed ways of enhancing relations between the two countries, the statement said, in addition to other issues of mutual concern. Mohammed Mubarak al Mazrouie, the director of Sheikh Mohammed's Court, and Yousef al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the US, were also present.

The meeting in Abu Dhabi was expected to touch on military co-operation and "challenges that we are working together to try to solve", Geoff Morrell, a spokesman for Mr Gates, said ahead of the meeting.

"He will certainly update the Crown Prince on his trip to Afghanistan and the situation there, where the UAE is contributing a number of forces. They will likely discuss the situation in Iraq, as well as Yemen, and certainly Iran."

The visit was the fourth by Mr Gates to Abu Dhabi in his Pentagon tenure. He last met with Sheikh Mohammed in the capital in March.

Earlier this week, Gulf leaders held their annual GCC summit in Abu Dhabi, calling for a peaceful resolution to the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme.

Mr Gates arrived in Abu Dhabi after two days in Afghanistan.

Washington's simmering worries about Iran's nuclear ambitions and al Qa'eda-linked terrorists plotting attacks against the West from Yemen were reflected in Mr Gates' remarks at the US Embassy in Kabul before he left yesterday.

He told a gathering of embassy workers that the US must be willing to do more financially, diplomatically and economically for countries that had problems, before they erupted and triggered military action.

"It is, frankly, a characteristic of democracies that preventive action - when action would be relatively cheap and relatively painless - is pretty rare," said Mr Gates. "We seem to have to wait until we've got a crisis on our hands before we can do anything."

Officials have pushed to provide training, equipment and other assistance to countries like Yemen and Somalia, to better enable the governments there to confront terrorist threats within their borders.

Mr Gates said it was hard to convince Capitol Hill and the public that making a preventive effort was worth it, in hopes of avoiding the much costlier expense of sending in tens of thousands of troops later.


* The National with additional reporting from Associated Press and Reuters