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Tue 31 Mar 2015 10:14 AM

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US supports, would cooperate with proposed Arab force

Previous efforts have failed to produce an effective force, and participation would be voluntary

US supports, would cooperate with proposed Arab force
U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter. (Getty Images)

The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide, Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday.

Carter told reporters during a visit to Fort Drum in New York that US military leaders who met with him in Kuwait several weeks ago thought that regional members of the coalition fighting ISIL militants should be encouraged to do more if they were able.

"So I think if they are willing to do more, in this case with respect to Yemen, then that is a good thing because ultimately it is their region... The willingness of the parties there to step up and do more for stability in the Middle East is a good thing," Carter said.

His remarks came a day after Arab leaders meeting at a summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats from Yemen to Libya.

Previous efforts have failed to produce an effective force, and participation would be voluntary. At least two countries were said to have committed to participating in the force.

Asked if the US military would cooperate with the new force, the US defense secretary said it would, noting that many of the participants, like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, are already bilateral security partners with the United States.

"These are partners and security allies of ours, and when they act in a way that we regard as in our interests as well as theirs we will continue to partner with them as we have been in other matters," Carter said.

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