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.