US defence secretary to discuss a range of bilateral and regional security issues
US defence secretary Robert Gates arrived in the UAE on Thursday after a visit to Afghanistan and was due to meet the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to discuss issues including Yemen and Iran.
Gates, who told a news conference in Kabul on Wednesday that progress in Afghanistan was exceeding his expectations, planned to meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan, one of the UAE's top defence officials, at the Mina Palace.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said: "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."
He added: "They will likely discuss the situation in Iraq as well as Yemen and certainly Iran."
The two men last met in March, Morrell said.
Gates planned to discuss a range of bilateral and regional security issues with the crown prince, "everything from defence cooperation to challenges that we are working together to try to solve", Morrell said.
Leaked US cables published by the website WikiLeaks last month revealed Gulf Arab leaders' deep anxiety over Iran's nuclear programme.
Sheikh Mohammed was portrayed as seeing "the logic of war dominating" in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Yemen remains at the forefront of global security concern after its resurgent al Qaeda wing claimed a plot to mail two parcel bombs from Yemen to the United States.
Washington has been encouraging the different Gulf countries to cooperate on regional security because of their shared common interest on issues like missile defence, early warning systems, counter-terrorism and piracy. (Reuters)