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US pushes forward with plans for anti-Iran Arab alliance

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AP New York
The Trump administration pressed ahead Friday with plans to create an "Arab NATO" that would unite US partners in the Middle East in an anti-Iran alliance.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New York with foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to advance the project.
The State Department said Pompeo had stressed the need to defeat the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations as well ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, securing Iraq and "stopping Iran's malign activity in the region."

"All participants agreed on the need to confront threats from Iran directed at the region and the United States," the department said in a statement.
It added that the ministers had "productive discussions" on setting up what is to be known as the "Middle East Strategic Alliance" to promote security and stability in the region.
The statement gave no timeframe for establishing the alliance but said Pompeo would continue to work on it in the coming weeks and months. Progress on creating the bloc has been hampered by an unresolved dispute between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar that has split the membership of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Saudis and Emiratis accuse Qatar of not doing enough to fight extremism, financing terrorism in some cases and getting too close to Iran. Qatar denies the charges.
Since June 2017, the Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrain, along with Egypt, have been boycotting Qatar and demanding that it limit its diplomatic ties with Iran, shut down the state-funded Al-Jazeera news network, and sever ties to "terrorist organizations" such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Mediation by Kuwait and the United States has failed to end the dispute, which US officials have warned could affect the fight against the Islamic State.

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First Published: Sep 28 2018 | 10:10 PM IST

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