| GEO World|
| U.S. asks Middle East to help fight terror spread|
| Updated at: 1450 PST, Saturday, December 13, 2008|
MANAMA: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Middle East nations Saturday to help fight the spread of violent extremism by funding and training Afghan security forces and reaching out more aggressively to the fledgling government in Iraq.
Gates also assured a gathering of Persian Gulf leaders here that President-elect Barack Obama would continue the U.S. commitment to the Middle East, including efforts to fight terrorism and develop a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
Gates urged Gulf leaders to set aside old hostilities inflamed in the Saddam era and forge diplomatic ties with Iraq.
``All of us have a stake in Iraq's ongoing fight with extremists,'' Gates said. ``Neighbors must lend support and increase their border-control efforts, especially those that have thus far failed to live up to pledges to tighten border crossings.''
Gates has persistently pressed Middle East nations to provide political, economic and overall support to Iraq, saying that if that country falls back into extremist control it will be a threat to the entire region.