Manama: US Secretary of Defence James Mattis will deliver a keynote speech on US policy in the Middle East in the Bahraini capital Manama.

Mattis will assess on Saturday the key security challenges facing the Middle East and the role that America has to play in addressing them as he addresses the Manama Dialogue, an annual international security conference, organised by Bahrain and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) on October 26-28.

The 14th IISS-Manama Dialogue will bring together more than 50 government ministers, national security advisers, and military and intelligence chiefs representing 25 countries from across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North Africa to discuss the most pressing security challenges in the Middle East.

Conflict and diplomacy in the Middle East and shifting relationships and the emerging Middle Eastern Order will be high on the agenda.

The conference will also discuss US policy in a changing Middle East, stabilisation and reconstruction in the Middle East and defence modernisation and industrialisation in the Middle East.

Other topics related directly to the Middle East include nuclear energy and non-proliferation in the Middle East and shared interests in Asia and the Middle East.

Preventing and Countering Transnational Threats will be discussed by the participants at a plenary session whereas the Horn of Africa and the security of the Bab Al Mandeb and cyber threats and cyber defence will be reviewed in group sessions.

“Inspiring fresh policy thinking, the [Manama] Dialogue provides opportunities for government leaders to engage directly with the leading experts in the region, and facilitates private bilateral and multilateral meetings between participating states.”

Last year, Gavin Williamson, UK Secretary of State for Defence, David Petraeus, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Jordan and Japan, Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Mobashar Jawed Akbar, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, were among the participants.

Last month, King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa said that Bahrain supported the Manama Dialogue based on its firm belief in the significance of dialogue as the most successful means of consolidating security and stability in the region.

Convening such international conferences is important because of the promising opportunities for civil and cultural communication and for the exchange of ideas and experiences that serve common interests, he said as he received Tom Beckett, the new Executive Director of the Bahrain-based IISS–Middle East.

Previous Manama Dialogue conferences have been successful in finding various different ways to resolve some of the pressing issues through the participants’ debates and discussions and positive cooperation to confront regional challenges, King Hamad said.