JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, May 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is in Saudi Arabia for the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Defense Dialogue.
Upon arriving in Jeddah on Tuesday, Hagel met with Saudi Vice Defense Minister Salman bin Sultan. The defense officials discussed regional threats and challenges, said Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, including those pertaining to Iran and Syria.
"Secretary Hagel emphasized the long-standing and enduring U.S.-Saudi defense partnership and U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region."
This week's GCC defense ministerial meeting is the first of its kind since 2008, Hagel told reporters while in transit. "I suggested this ... to try to develop a forum -- an opportunity -- to advance regional partnerships, cooperation [and] strategy more than maybe we have in the past."
Hagel expressed his intent in December to designate the GCC as eligible to receive foreign military sales so that the U.S. can augment the military capabilities of GCC member to respond to regional threats.
The commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, is also participating in the Jeddah conference.