Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- A group of Gulf and American strategic and military experts began a two-day meeting yesterday in the Kingdom’s capitol to discuss the future of US-Gulf relations following the election of President-elect Barack Obama, and the implications of [Obama’s] forthcoming administration on handling the issues of Iran and Iraq.
The meeting–sponsored by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal- will study a proposal published by the Gulf Research Center [GRC] entitled Maritime Security in the Gulf, which focuses on a new maritime security framework for the Gulf region.
Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command will also be participating.
On the meeting’s agenda are relations between the USA and the Arab Gulf States, with regards to politics, security, economy, energy, education, and the environment. A group of selected experts and analysts from research centers and educational institutes from the Gulf States and the USA will be taking part.
Ambassador Dr. Saad Al Ammar, Director-General of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies [affiliated to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs] informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he will “pass on the recommendations and proposals the forum produces to the decision-makers in Saudi Arabia.”
Al Ammar added that “it is essential that there is transparency with regards to the future of US-Gulf relations under the President-elect’s administration.” He said “We have invited the Americans to hear from them, and to allow them to hear from us.”
He also stressed that the focus [of the meeting] will be largely on the issue of how the forthcoming US administration will deal with the Iran and Iraq issues, and to what extent this will effect Gulf regional security. The joint Gulf-US meeting will last two days, and will discuss 6 key issues.
Yesterday’s session commenced with a speech by Abdulaziz O. Sager, founder and chairman of the Dubai-based GRC, and another by Ambassador Al Ammar Director-General of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies.
Other key note speeches scheduled for the two-day event include a speech read out on behalf of Prince Saud Al Faisal, and another read out on behalf of GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah by his deputy Assistant Secretary General of Political Affairs Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Hammadi
Prince Turki Al Faisal, Former Saudi Ambassador the United States and Chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Islamic Studies and Research will also be taking part in the first discussion which will focus on Gulf regional security, including the Iran and Iraq issue, and US policy in that regards. Ford Fraker, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance.