Major regional security forum opens
Ahram Online, Friday 3 Dec 2010
A major security forum, the Manama Dialogue, opens on Friday

The Manama Dialogue, a security forum held annually in Bahrain, opened on Friday 3 December. This is the 7th IISS Regional Security summit assembling the highest concentration of regional policymakers.

The forum is organised by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and draws prime ministers, defence ministers, and military officials from across the region.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is attending the Manama Dialogue claimed to be the "most important regional security meeting in the Middle East and an excellent anchor for regional security diplomacy, days after WikiLeaks flooded the internet.

Reactions to WikiLeaks have been relatively low key in the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry spokesman said that the documents "do not concern the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nor has the kingdom had any role in producing them. Nor is it aware of their authenticity. Therefore Saudi Arabia cannot comment on them."

A Yemeni foreign ministry official dismissed the documents as "inaccurate and incorrect."

The media highlighted among other things Gulf antagonism towards Iran and its litigious nuclear programme.

The IISS said major policymakers will be attending the forum including Bahrain’s crown prince and the foreign ministers of Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen and Iran. The king of Jordan will deliver a keynote address on Saturday.

Clinton said on Friday that the US was still working on peace talks.

"The United States is working intensively to create the conditions that will permit the parties to negotiate their way forward to a final resolution," Clinton said in Bahrain, a day after a senior Palestinian official blamed Israel for the “collapse” of the talks.

Clinton also reproached Iran and North Korea for the pursuit of their nuclear programmes saying that they could spark regional arms races that threaten global peace and stability.

"Perhaps the Iranians, with their return to the talks in Geneva starting on Monday, will engage seriously with the international community on what is a concern shared by nations on every continent but most particularly right here in the region," Clinton said.