Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will travel to the Middle East tomorrow to consult with allies and reassure them of the United States’ unwavering commitment to security in the region.
Austin will be the keynote speaker at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain. He will meet with civil and military leaders from across the region at this annual event.
The secretary told reporters at a Pentagon press conference that he would emphasize two issues during his trip. He will stress that the United States is deeply committed to security in the Middle East and will continue to strengthen partnerships in the region.
Second, we understand that many of the most pressing security challenges in the Middle East and elsewhere cross borders. Therefore, we have to counter these common threats with common solutions in lockstep with our friends, who also come to the table with impressive skills. “
U.S. partnerships in the region were shown during the evacuation of Kabul, Afghanistan. The nations of the Middle East – including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar – helped the US military evacuate more than 124,000 people.
Austin will also visit the United Arab Emirates during the trip. “I look forward to discussing our two countries’ common defense priorities,” he said.
Iran will be an issue among all leaders in the Persian Gulf. “It has not escaped my notice that this trip comes at a time when Iran is fueling tension and undermining stability in the region,” he said. “We remain determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And I have already said that no problem in the Middle East is easier to solve with a nuclear-armed Iran.”
There have been a number of incidents in the region, and Austin reiterated that US forces will defend itself and US partners and interests against threats from Iran or its proxies.
The secretary also spoke about the troubling behavior of Russia. There has been a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, and Russia has carried out an anti-satellite test that threatens all space nations. “We are very concerned about that,” he said. Austin said the US would continue to urge Russia to act responsibly and be more transparent about building the armed forces on the border with Ukraine.
“We don’t know exactly what Mr Putin is up to,” said Austin. âBut these movements certainly have our attention. … I would like to ask Russia to be more transparent about what they are up to. Our support for Ukraine “[‘s] Sovereignty and territorial integrity remain unshakable. “