JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is meeting with leaders of Saudi Arabia at the outset of a week-long Middle East trip designed to reassure allies of the Obama administration's commitment to their defense.
Hagel arrived Tuesday in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and met with the deputy defense minister, Salman bin Sultan. Later he was meeting with Crown Prince Salman, the designated successor to King Abdullah
The Saudis are hosting a meeting Wednesday of defense ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council states, including Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. It is their first session with a U.S. defense secretary since 2008, and the formal agenda includes missile defense and other security issues linked to Iran.
Hagel said he also will discuss with the Gulf ministers the civil war in Syria and the nuclear negotiations with Iran.