The New York Times newspaper reports the United States is negotiating with Kuwait to allow American combat troops to be based in the Persian Gulf area after completing the announced withdrawal from Iraq by the end of this year.
The report says the talks are part of U.S. plans to boost its military presence in the Gulf so the United States is able to respond quickly in the event of a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.
The Times says in addition to maintaining a combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is also considering sending more warships through international waters in the region. The size of the potential standby force has not been determined.
There was no immediate confirmation of the Times report, which was based on interviews with unnamed military officials and diplomats.
U.S. military plans in the region have been under discussion for months, but the Times said the talks became more urgent when President Barack Obama announced that the last American troops would leave Iraq by the end of December.
The Times said the U.S. government is seeking to increase existing military ties with all members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.