ABU DHABI — US Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew into the United Arab Emirates on Thursday for talks with the leaders expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear programme and the Al Qaeda threat in Yemen.
Gates was to meet General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Their talks would touch on military cooperation and “challenges that we are working together to try to solve,” press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters travelling with him.
They would also discuss “a range of bilateral and regional security issues,” he added.
The US defence chief’s visit to Abu Dhabi comes hot on the heels of the leaking of US diplomatic cables by whistleblower website WikiLeaks detailing the extent of concern among region about Iran’s controversial nuclear programme and its growing missile arsenal.
Gates, who arrived in Abu Dhabi from two nights in Afghanistan, also planned to give Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan an update on the war effort, Morrell said.
The UAE has deployed more than 1,000 troops to the NATO-led mission.
The talks were also expected to cover the possible sale to the UAE of US missile defence systems to counter the Iranian arsenal.
The situation in Yemen was also on the agenda amid increasing concern in Washington over Al Qaeda’s foothold in the impoverished Arabia peninsula country.