Hagel, Crown Prince dis­cuss US-UAE de­fence co­op­er­a­tion


US De­fense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel’s first trip to the Mid­dle East in­cluded a visit and of­fi­cial din­ner with Gen. Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the United Arab Emi­rates armed forces.

The two men reaf­firmed the strong US com­mit­ment to de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion be­tween their coun­tries, Pen­tagon Press Sec­re­tary Ge­orge Lit­tle said in a state­ment.

In par­tic­u­lar, he said, they dis­cussed UAEs’ pur­chase of 25 F-16 Block 60 air­craft and the US de­ci­sion to re­lease stand­off weapons for sale to de­fend the UAE. The smart stand­off weapons can nav­i­gate to their tar­gets and are more pre­cise and can be fired at fur­ther dis­tances than con­ven­tional weapons.

“The ad­di­tional F-16s will in­crease both na­tions’ in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and en­hance their abil­ity to per­form joint and coali­tion se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions,” Lit­tle added.

“The Sec­re­tary and the Crown Prince con­curred on the need to build on the al­ready ro­bust de­fence ties, which in­clude bi­lat­eral ex­er­cises and train­ing, to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion in such ar­eas as bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fence,” Lit­tle said.

The two coun­tries agreed to hold reg­u­lar bi­lat­eral de­fence con­sul­ta­tions to fur­ther co­or­di­nate ex­pand­ing mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties. They also dis­cussed a range of re­gional chal­lenges, he said, in­clud­ing the need for Iran to meet its in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions with re­spect to its nu­clear pro­gramme, the on­go­ing con­flict in Syria, and coun­ter­ing the threat of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

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