Manama: Iran’s foreign minister is to attend an international security conference in Bahrain in December.
The Manama Dialogue, co-organised by Bahrain's foreign ministry and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), will bring together senior political and security officials from several countries, including the US, Britain and Iran.
"I thank the foreign ministry for his invitation to attend the Manama Dialogue in December and I am delighted to be present at this significant meeting that discusses several important issues related to broadening dialogue and understanding between the countries of the region and the rest of the world," Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's top diplomat, said following a meeting with his Bahraini counterpart Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa in New York.
The forum this year will be held from December 3 to 5. Mottaki also attended the 2006 and 2009 Gulf Dialogue conferences.
In the past he has criticised Western countries. "The presence and function of western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have deteriorated the situation, which resulted in the massacre of innocent people, intensification of violence and destruction of the infrastructures in this country," he said.
He decided, at the last moment, not to attend the forum in 2007 after Iran and IISS disagreed over extending an invitation to an Iranian think tank that had organised a conference of Holocaust deniers in Tehran, attended by participants from 30 countries, including Jews from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect, who argued that the Holocaust had been either fabricated or exaggerated.
In his speech in 2009, Mottaki said the serious challenges facing the Middle East and the Gulf included underground activities by terrorist networks and drug trafficking in the region, as well as religious and racial conflict.
This year's Manama Dialogue agenda topics will include the role of the US in regional security, regional security cooperation, Asia, strategic reassurance and deterrence in the region, the changing international framework and regional security, as well as the changing nature of regional security issues.
There will also be debates on Yemen’s future, maritime security operations and international cooperation, Iraq and regional and military cooperation.
However, there will be no special debate over Iran and its perceived role in the region, a theme that has previously dominated regional security discussions.