Hagel calls on UAE and Egypt to discuss regional security issues

imgU.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday spoke by phone separately with the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Egyptian defense minister to discuss regional security issues, the Pentagon said.

During his conversation with UAE Crown Prince Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Hagel emphasized U.S. commitment to security in the Middle East, and noted that the strong U.S.-UAE bilateral relationship remains integral to regional stability, Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

Hagel also reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt, and discussed the recent decision about U.S. security assistance to Egypt, it said.

On Iran’s nuclear program, Hagel noted that his country intends to test the prospects of diplomacy. But he assured the UAE crown prince that, as it pursues a peaceful settlement, Washington remains firm in its commitment to the security of the region and to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, according to the statement.

While speaking with Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Hagel stressed the importance of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship to the national security of both countries and to the region. They also talked about the importance of regional security cooperation, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, Little said in a separate statement.

This was the first direct contact between U.S. and Egyptian top officials since Washington decided last Wednesday to suspend part of its annual aid to Egypt.

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