The US defence secretary has warned opponents of the US against trying to “test” Barack Obama with a crisis in the early days of his presidency.
Robert Gates said the new president’s security team was ready to defend US national interests from the moment he takes office next month.
Mr Gates, who is staying in his post, said Middle East and Gulf security would remain a key issue for the US.
He was speaking at a regional security forum in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
On Iran, Mr Gates denied that the US was seeking regime change, but wanted to see “a change in policies and a change in behaviour”.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets with Gen. Ray Odierno, left, commander of multi-national forces Iraq following a town hall meeting with troops Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008, in Balad, Iraq. Gates urged Middle East nations to support the fight against terror Saturday then traveled to Iraq to meet with commanders as the U.S. prepares to cut its troops levels and begin to pull forces out of the cities.(AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool)
He also repeated calls for Sunni Arab countries to back Iraq with full diplomatic ties.
The conference in Manama, organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, is being attended by representatives of 25 states.
Signals To Obama: Back Off
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