Security |

Bahrain hosts meeting on maritime security

By AFP

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Delegates attend the opening session of the Ministerial Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group meeting in Manama on October 21st. The US, Bahrain and Poland co-host the meetings, which aim to maintain maritime and aviation security and prevent illicit shipments related to weapons of mass destruction. [STR/AFP]

Representatives from more than 60 countries met in Bahrain on Monday (October 21st) to discuss maritime security following attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations.

The attacks have been widely blamed on Tehran, which denies any involvement.

"We all must take a collective stand... to take the necessary steps to protect our nations from rogue states," Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the meeting.

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Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa delivers opening remarks at the start of the Ministerial Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group meeting in Manama on October 21st, flanked by Poland’s deputy Interior Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski and the representative of the US State Department Eliot Kang. [STR/AFP]

"This meeting comes at a critical moment in history," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a letter to the meeting's participants.

"The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, whether by air or sea, poses a serious threat to international peace and security," he wrote.

"Together, we must all be committed to taking the necessary actions to stop countries that continue to pursue WMD at great risk to all of us," Pompeo said, in apparent reference to Iran.

Participants at the two-day meeting belong to the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group, created in February during a Middle East conference in Warsaw.

"The meeting is an occasion to exchange views on how to deal with the Iranian menace and to guarantee freedom of navigation," Bahrain's foreign ministry said in a social media post.

Following recent attacks against tankers in the Gulf, the US formed a naval coalition to protect navigation in a region that is critical to global oil supplies.

Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet, joined the coalition in August. Saudi Arabia and the UAE joined in September.

The UK and Australia have agreed to send warships to escort commercial shipping in the Gulf.

"The US is committed to maintaining maritime and aviation security in the region and promoting steps to interdict and prevent illicit weapons of mass destruction-related shipments," the US State Department said in an October 18th statement.

The working group meeting in Manama is one of seven working groups that were announced following the February conference in Warsaw, it said.

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