US State Department counsellor to visit Bahrain and Kuwait following Manama Dialogue

Derek Chollet to tackle bilateral and regional security partnerships

US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet will partake in bilateral talks in Bahrain. AP
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US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet will seek to boost security co-operation on a trip this week to Kuwait and Bahrain, Washington announced on Monday.

Mr Chollet will travel to the region on Tuesday, weeks after Bahrain hosted the critical Manama Dialogue, where US Central Command chief Gen Michael Kurilla said more than 100 unmanned vessels would be deployed in Gulf waters by next year to stave off Iranian maritime threats.

The State Department said Mr Chollet will partake in bilateral talks in Bahrain, communicating “America’s unwavering commitment both to Bahrain and the region”, as well as examining ways to enhance security co-operation, promote human rights and combat human trafficking.

During his time in Bahrain, the counsellor will also focus on promoting the Negev Forum, which aims to foster stronger ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours, as a means of advancing regional integration.

Representatives from the US, Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt met in Manama for talks in June to discuss the next steps for the forum after the first Negev Summit was held in March.

In Kuwait, Mr Chollet will work to “advance mutual interests” on defence, trade, climate change and health issues.

Kuwait recently detected a cholera infection in a citizen who had travelled “from a neighbouring country where there is a cholera outbreak”, the health ministry said.

Mr Chollet's visit comes weeks after Kuwait made headlines for executing seven prisoners convicted of premeditated murder and other charges.

“The United States and Kuwait have a shared commitment to promoting the stability and security of the region, built on six decades of strong relations and people-to-people ties,” the State Department said in a statement.

The department did not immediately respond to requests about who specifically Mr Chollet will meet during bilateral discussions.

The rhetoric surrounding increased co-operation, particularly on defence, follows the White House's continued pivot away from the Middle East and towards Asia in its broader national security strategy.

“It is time to eschew grand designs in favour of more practical steps that can advance US interests and help regional partners lay the foundation for greater stability, prosperity and opportunity for the people of the Middle East and for the American people,” the strategy states.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has also repeatedly stated that President Joe Biden will “review” its bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia as a result of the Opec+ bloc's decision to cut oil production amid economic uncertainty.

Updated: November 29, 2022, 4:37 AM