Hagel reassures Persian Gulf allies

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Associated Press

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 14 at 2:34 PM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is reassuring Persian Gulf allies of U.S. commitments to defend them amid tensions in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, including differences over how to help moderate rebel forces remove President Bashar Assad from power in Syria.

Hagel's visit was designed to calm Gulf states that feel vulnerable to Iran's influence and are frustrated at U.S. policy on Syria, which has not yet included lethal aid in the three-year civil war.

Hagel addressed the Iran issue Wednesday at the outset of a meeting of defense ministers from the Gulf states. But he made only glancing mention of the Syria problem, which is viewed by the Saudis as a worrying sign of U.S. hesitation to confront Iranian influences in the region.

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