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Open for talks to grant ”major ally” status to Gulf nations:US

PTI |

The US is open for discussion with Gulf countries for granting them a ‘major ally’ status, but has ruled out a NATO-type pact, a top official has said.

"We are open to discussions on that topic. Some of them (countries) have that (major ally) status already. I think we are open to a discussion in that area," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said on the sidelines of a summit between President Barack Obama and the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members.

"I think frankly, they have been more interested in nature of the type of public assurance that we can provide with respect to their security and the nature of the capabilities that we can help them to develop," Rhodes said yesterday.

"There has not been the area of particular interest or focus for them in the run up to the summit, but it’s something we’d be open to discussing with them," he said.

Rhodes, however, ruled out a NATO-type pact with the countries of the region, who have expressed security concerns from Iran after the possible nuclear deal.

"I think that is a very complicated piece of business.

That is the type of thing when you look at our NATO alliance, for instance, it is a painstaking and very extensive process to integrate into NATO," he explained.

"It involves a shared commitment to a set of capabilities, a shared commitment in terms of it runs across a range of issues that go beyond even just hard security. The same is true in Asia," he said.

"We also would say this is a very unpredictable region in which threats emanate from very many different places. What we are prepared to do is say if there is an external threat to security, we stand ready to defend you against that threat, or to help you deter that threat," Rhodes added.

The 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

Obama and the leaders from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain opened their talks with a private dinner yesterday at the White House.