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US Defense Chief Courts Arab Gulf Leaders

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is greeted upon arrival in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 09 Dec 2010

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to discuss regional security issues, including Iran's nuclear program and terrorist groups operating in Yemen, when he meets with Gulf leaders in the United Arab Emirates Thursday.

Gates is scheduled to meet with one of the UAE's top military commanders, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan later in the day.

Before visiting the Gulf, Gates was in Afghanistan for a meeting with President Hamid Karzai.

Speaking alongside the Afghan president Wednesday, the U.S. defense chief said he believed the new strategy in the war-torn country was working.

The new White House strategy called for a surge of 30,000 more U.S. troops and thousands of additional NATO troops.

Gates said he was convinced the new strategy left the Taliban with "far less territory" than it had years ago. He also acknowledged that U.S. troops and NATO forces still face a "tough fight" in areas where the militants remain in control.

The Obama administration is expected to announce the results of an Afghan war strategy review next week.