Cheney seeks support on Iraq from Gulf states

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - US Vice President Dick Cheney sought greater support for US Iraq policy from this moderate Arab Gulf State on Saturday, in a visit also aimed at countering growing Iranian influence in the region.

By (AP)

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Published: Sat 12 May 2007, 6:34 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:22 AM

Cheney met with the UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other top UAE officials in Abu Dhabi’s Musharif Palace. That meeting came ahead of a delicate fence-mending visit to Saudi Arabia.

Cheney’s meeting with the UAE leaders came on the eve of a visit to Abu Dhabi by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The vice president was to meet later Saturday in the northern Saudi city of Tubuk with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia in a bid to overcome rising Saudi skepticism over the US military strategy to secure Baghdad and the leadership capabilities of Iraqi President Nouri Al Maliki.

Although considered a key American ally in the Arab world, King Abdullah has increasingly sent signals that he doubts the effectiveness of US President George W. Bush’s troop buildup strategy. The king has also signalled that he views al-Al Maliki as a weak leader with too many ties to pro-Iranian Shia parties to be effective in reaching out to Iraqi’s Sunni minority.

Cheney is touring Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states in an attempt to win wider support for ethnic reconciliation in Iraq and to counter efforts by Iran to spread its influence in the region.

Cheney’s mission to Saudi Arabia includes an effort to smooth over recent divisions between the oil-rich kingdom and the United States.

The kingdom has taken an aggressive leadership role in efforts to quiet Mideast troubles. In a possible attempt to gain more credibility in the region, King Abdullah recently has openly challenged the US military presence in Iraq, calling US troops in Iraq an “illegal foreign occupation.”

The king also refused to see Al Maliki as the Iraqi prime minister was making a tour of Arab countries late last month.

Cheney went to Saudi Arabia last November for meetings with the king that are still shrouded in secrecy.

After dinner with the king, Cheney was to travel next to Jordan. He will also visit Egypt on a weeklong trip that has already taken him to Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

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