Hagel Heads to the Middle East

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will attend the US-Gulf Cooperation Council defense ministerial in Saudi Arabia this week where he is expected to address “common regional security challenges,” such as “Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby on Friday. It will be the first US meeting with the GCC since 2008, according to a May 9 release. “It is an opportunity for the Secretary to underscore US security commitments in the Middle East and to reinforce the United States’ unstinting policy of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and further destabilizing the region,” said Kirby. Hagel will then travel to Jordan and then Israel. In Israel he will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon to discuss “critical regional and bilateral security issues, including the United States and Israel’s cooperation on rocket and missile defense,” said Kirby.