Gates Plans to Reaffirm U.S. Commitment to Region at Bahrain Conference
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
MANAMA, Bahrain, Dec. 12, 2008 Providing reassurances that countries in the region and other allies can continue to count on the United States and fostering U.S. relationships in the Persian Gulf region are among the goals Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates hopes to achieve at the multinational Manama Dialogue conference here.
Gates landed here late last night to attend today’s opening of the annual conference, at which he said he also hopes to expand U.S. efforts in multilateral air and maritime surveillance capabilities and defensive capabilities in the region.
Speaking to reporters during the flight here, Gates said he believes those gathered at the conference will be focused on the direction the United States will take after President-elect Barack Obama takes office next month.
“I think they will be looking for reassurance of … continuity in U.S. attention to the region and our bilateral and multilateral relationships,” he said. His message will convey that continuity, he added, and will reinforce that Persian Gulf countries can count on the United States to remain actively engaged in the region.
The secretary began meeting this morning with senior U.S. and foreign military leaders in the region. He will speak at tomorrow's first session, followed by an opportunity for questions from those attending the dialogue.
This year’s Manama Dialogue is the fifth annual such meeting of leaders from more than 25 countries, including those from the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, NATO and the European Union. Hosted by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the meetings serve as a forum on national and regional security issues and initiatives.