US strategic dialogues have identified new opportunities to support the growth of diversified, innovative, and knowledge-based economies across the Gulf, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Timothy Lenderking has said.
“We’re expanding co-operation in public health, biomedical research, renewable energy, agriculture, aviation, artificial intelligence, while opening opportunities to establish secure telecommunication networks and policies that attract trusted global telecoms and information technology companies,” he told a telephonic press briefing on December 10.
Lenderking discussed US policy in the Arabian Peninsula and the outcomes of recent strategic dialogues held with Bahrain, Kuwait, and other Gulf partners.
He said his recent visit to neighbouring GCC countries with assistant secretary David Schenker focused on ways to advance regional security, seeking solutions for regional conflicts, and trying to bolster economic partnerships.
“As we aim to build a more secure Middle East, we are identifying new priorities that bring prosperity. Billions of dollars in goods and services are flowing between the US and Gulf countries, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans,” Lenderking noted. “The UAE and Qatar, for example, have invested more than $56bn in the US.”
“Our strategic dialogues also feature the importance of people-to-people exchanges, which in many ways I’ve found are the bedrock of our relations with the Gulf,” he said. “We’re expanding the number and range of cultural and educational exchanges. We’ll look for opportunities for students across the region to study in the US.”
Lenderking highlighted the vital role of these strategic dialogues with Gulf countries especially in the past three months saying that a lot of progress have been made. He stressed that these dialogues underscore the importance that the US places on its Gulf relationships, expressing confidence that it will continue due to the Arabian Peninsula’s strategic importance to the US.
“I think when you look at our engagements across the Gulf, you will note similar, shared, and interlocking interests: security co-operation, trade and investment, human rights, people-to-people exchanges. I think we’ve been able to seize the opportunity for transformative change that’s been happening in the Gulf,” Lenderking pointed out.
He cited the defence co-operation the US has across the Gulf, with a number of countries hosting US forces at military bases such as the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Camp Arifjan and Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, and the US Central Command and Fifth Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.
“Finally, our engagement on human rights in the Gulf has also become a prominent feature of our strategic dialogues. We like to acknowledge the progress made across the Gulf in combating trafficking in persons, labour reforms, and advancing freedom of religion or belief and inter-faith dialogue, and there are a couple of good examples that we can point to in that realm,” Lenderking said.
“But we also acknowledge the need to continue discussions on reforms that bring greater judicial transparency, commitment to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly across the Gulf. It’s our view that the American people expect that all of our strategic partnerships in the Gulf prioritise a shared commitment to the rule of law and respect for human rights,” he added.