U.S. calls on GCC, Saudi to "confront threat" of Iran
The U.S. called on its Gulf ally Saudi Arabia Wednesday to "confront common threats" with Washington in the region, particular in terms of Iran, according to Reuters.
"The most pressing security challenges threaten this region as a whole - and they demand a collective response. This approach is how the region must continue to address the threats posed by Iran," said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as part of the opening remarks of a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting.
Hagel arrived in Saudi Arabia Tuesday as part of his regional tour where he will adress pressing issues such as the conflict in Syria and Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West.
Hagel's remarks follow Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal's open invitation to Tehran Tuesday to visit Riyadh. KSA and Iran have been regional rivals for decades over numerous regional issues, including the war in Syria where Sunni Riyadh backs the opposition and Shiite Iran supports Assad and the regime. However, recent developments under Iranian president's Hassan Rouhani's leadership seem to have opened a new era of relations-or the very least exchange-between the two regional rivals.
Hagel added in his commentary that "heightened military cooperation [between the U.S. and the GCC could help confront not only Iran," but other "militancy and related challenges."
Most of the GCC member states are wary of Iran's influence in the Middle East, sharing U.S. suspicions on Tehran's nuclear program in particular as well.