Let’s Get Together Again:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met yesterday in Egypt with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to “re-affirm that the Persian Gulf and the Middle East are an enduring vital interest to the United States,” Gates told reporters. In a predeparture statement, Rice said that these new efforts would “help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al Qaeda, Hizballah, Syria, and Iran.” To bolster its security assistance in the region, the US is investing billions. Israel gets $30 billion for a new 10-year military assistance program; right now the US average contribution is $2.4 billion per year. Egypt gets $13 billion for a new 10-year military assistance program. On a less expensive note, they will begin a “serious conversation”—said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns—with Saudi Arabia and other GCC members to address their security needs.