Hagel says emphasis on diplomacy with Iran shows courage, vision

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Saturday that diplomacy takes courage and vision and reiterated U.S. commitment to a strong military posture in the Gulf region.

Hagel made the remarks on Saturday during the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Manama dialogue in Bahrain. Hagel discussed the recent interim deal in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran, which halts the expansion of Iran's nuclear program and provides access to verify Iran's intentions. He said the agreement bought time for meaningful negotiations for a longer-term comprehensive solution.

Hagel said the negotiating partners are all clear-eyed about the challenges remaining to the achievement of a nuclear solution with Iran.

"No strategy is risk-free," Hagel said. "Diplomacy takes courage. It takes vision. But our emphasis on diplomatic tools should not be misinterpreted. We know diplomacy cannot operate in a vacuum. Our success will continue to hinge on America's military power, the credibility of our assurances to our allies and partners in the Middle East that we will use it."

Hagel said the DoD will not make any adjustments to its forces in the region as a result of the interim agreement with Iran.

Hagel also discussed U.S. efforts in Syria that led to diplomacy with Russia and started the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal.

"Our experiences over the last decade have challenged us to use all our tools of foreign policy, including diplomatic, economic, trade, development assistance, and military power, use these powers more effectively and more in alignment with our partners and our friends," Hagel said. "We have seen this approach in Syria with President Obama's resolve to take military action after the (Bashar al-Assad) regime used chemical weapons created an opening for diplomacy with Russia."

Hagel closed by saying U.S. commitment to the Gulf region is both proven and enduring. He said the U.S. will not shirk its responsibilities.