Washington: US President Barack Obama welcomed Abu Dhabi crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan to the White House on Tuesday for closed door talks on security in the volatile Middle East.
The meeting, in the Oval Office, was closed to journalists and the two leaders made no public remarks, though photographers were allowed into the room for a few seconds to see the crown prince and the president talking quietly.
"The two leaders had a productive and wide-ranging discussion which focused on our common strategic interests in the region," said short White House statement.
The UAE, a key US strategic and export partner, and Qatar were the only Arab states to send warplanes for operations over Libya, where strongman Muammar Gaddafi`s forces are battling Western-backed rebels.
The emir of Qatar was also granted a meeting with Obama in the Oval Office this month.
Obama has been discussing the turmoil throughout the Middle East and the Arab world -- a dominant US foreign policy interest -- in all his recent talks and telephone calls with regional leaders.
Tuesday`s talks came as NATO powers seek to shield Libyan civilians from Gaddafi`s forces, as the Syrian government violently puts down opposition protests and with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process at a standstill.
Washington was also concerned when tense relations between Gulf Arab states and Iran were exacerbated after the mid-March intervention of Gulf security forces, including a contingent from the UAE, in Sunni-ruled Bahrain where security forces crushed a Shi’ite-led pro-democracy uprising.
The intervention sparked a war of words between various Gulf Arab states and their neighbour Iran, a long-time foe of the United States.
According to the State Department, the UAE is the single largest US export market in the Middle East and hosts more American naval ships than any port outside the United States.