Gates to meet with Saudi king to discuss Yemen, Iran: April 6 Mideast update

Secretary Gates and King Abdullah share concerns about Al Qaeda in Yemen and Iranian influence in the region. Meanwhile, Libya's rebels demand more of NATO, and Syria's unrest simmers.

By , Correspondent

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    US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (l.) talks with Saudi Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviation Prince Khalid bin Sultan during a ceremony after Gates' arrival on Wednesday, April 6, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Gates arrived in the Saudi capital Wednesday for talks with King Abdullah on coping with the political upheaval sweeping the Arab world, blunting Iranian efforts to exploit the unrest, and upgrading the kingdom's defenses against Iranian missiles.
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Check back weekday mornings for a quick tally of the latest developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Libya

As Libya's rebels were pushed out of Brega – their biggest territorial loss in a week – some began turning against NATO, claiming NATO was abandoning its military obligation to pursue diplomatic means of resolving the conflict. The rebels also accused NATO of not doing enough in Misratah, the sole western city under opposition control and the target of some of the heaviest fire from Qaddafi's forces.

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NATO has replied that it is doing what it can, while still avoiding civilian deaths. Col. Muammar Qaddafi's troops have taken to locating their weaponry among civilians, making it impossible for NATO to sometimes strike. NATO officials have also vowed to make protection of those in Misratah a priority.

Yemen

Al Jazeera reports there was another wave of protests in Sanaa today, which led to clashes that resulted in four deaths. International pressure on Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down has grown. The Pentagon is now calling for a negotiated power transfer from President Ali Abdullah Saleh as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is in Saudi Arabia today, meeting with King Abdullah about the Middle East uprisings. The two share concerns about Yemen's unrest and the potential for Iran to intervene in the region.

Syria

Two police officers were shot and killed while patrolling a town near Damascus that was the site of deadly protests last week, Al Jazeera reports.

The Syrian government is still trying to prevent a mass uprising. Most recently, it postponed all soccer matches in the country to eliminate the possibility of large nonpolitical gatherings turning into mass protests.

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