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Manama Dialogue will size up Gulf security challenges.

Byline: Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: The state of Iran-US relations, the future framework of Gulf security and security challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will top the agenda of the Manama Dialogue to be hosted in the Bahraini capital from December 11-13, organisers have said.

Leaders and decision-makers from at least 20 countries will also address maritime security, military transformation and security cooperation in the Gulf besides the role of non-state actors over six plenary sessions and group discussions, sources from the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told Gulf News.

Regional security in a geo-economic context, regional security cooperation, the US and regional security, regional security architecture, nuclear power, energy and security, and Afghanistan, Southwest Asia and the Gulf will be debated in the plenary sessions of the regional security summit.

However, no special plenary session or even break-up group discussion has been designated for an exclusive debate on Iran and its perceived role in the region, a theme that dominated past regional security discussions.

Iran in 2006 was the focus of the annual summit with its foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki grabbing official and media limelight.

However, in 2007, the US attended in force and the forthright address by Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defence, was the highlight of the fourth IISS Manama Dialogue. The summit took place just a few days after the US Director of National Intelligence had issued a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had been conducting a nuclear weapons programme, but that it had been suspended in 2003.

Gates told delegates that while Iran, for the first time, embraced as valid an assessment of the United States intelligence community, he hoped that Tehran would also accept its conclusions on its support for its uranium enrichment programme, its development of ballistic missiles, and other activities. Iran did not attend the 2007 summit. Tehran again shunned the conclave last year.

John Chipman, IISS director-general and chief executive observed: "We are keen to bring the perspectives of this region into the mainstream of international strategic debate, involve regional analysts in our work, help to connect the debates here to those of other regions and ensure also that IISS analysis is organically part of the region's deliberations."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Sep 8, 2009
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