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US weighs bolstering military presence in Gulf: official
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 31, 2011

The United States is looking at bolstering its military presence in the Gulf after US troops stationed in Iraq withdraw by the end of the year, a US defense official said Monday.

Amid concerns about Iraq's stability and Iran's role in the region, the Pentagon was weighing a move to shift some of the 39,000 forces due to leave Iraq to neighboring Kuwait, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

A Pentagon spokesman said he was not aware of any negotiations with Kuwait on stationing more US troops there.

"I think we're going through a range of options right now about what it could look like, what it should look like going forward and no decisions have been made," Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters.

The New York Times first reported the possible plan over the weekend, and said commanders -- mindful of Iran's influence -- also were considering stepping up the presence of US warships in the Gulf region.

Kirby said the ultimate arrangement of US forces in the Gulf would be drawn up in line with security agreements with US allies.

"Whatever decisions are made about force posture, it's going to be based on our security commitments that we have made and continue to honor in that region, not aimed at any particular threat," he said.

President Barack Obama announced this month that the remaining US troops in Iraq would leave by the end of the year, after negotiations with Baghdad on a possible post-2011 force collapsed over the question of legal immunity for American soldiers.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking during a visit to Asia last week, warned Tehran against misinterpreting the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and cited the vast network of US bases in the region.

"For Iran and anybody else who has any other ideas, let me make clear that the United States maintains 40,000 troops in that region, 23,000 in Kuwait, and numbers of others in countries throughout that region," Panetta said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi dismissed Washington's warnings and said Monday during a visit to Baghdad that the United States is not following a "rational" approach in its reported plan to boost military forces in the Gulf.

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Saudi king to name Salman to defence post: source
Riyadh (AFP) Oct 31, 2011 - King Abdullah is expected to name his half-brother Prince Salman, who is governor of Riyadh, as the new defence minister to succeed the late Crown Prince Sultan, a Saudi official said Monday.

"The monarch will name Prince Salman as a defence minister later on Monday," the source told AFP, requesting anonymity and without giving further details.

King Abdullah last Thursday named Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as crown prince succeeding his brother Sultan, who died in a US hospital on October 22.

Salman and Nayef are full brothers.


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US plans to bolster military presence in Gulf: report
Washington (AFP) Oct 30, 2011
The United States plans to bolster its military presence in the Gulf after the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq announced by President Barack Obama, The New York Times reported late Sunday. Citing unnamed officials and diplomats, the newspaper said the repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with ... read more

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