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Pentagon Chief in Mideast to Reaffirm US Support for Region 

A handout picture, released by Bahrain's official news agency on Nov. 19, 2021, shows Bahrain's Minister for Defense Affairs Abdulla bin Hasan Al-Nuaimi receiving the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Manama.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Bahrain Friday at the start of a Middle East trip that will also take him to the United Arab Emirates.

In Bahrain, he will speak at the annual International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue, where he will “reaffirm the U.S. resolve to advance and strengthen enduring defense partnerships and commitment to the long-standing U.S. leadership role in strengthening regional security and stability,” according to a Pentagon press release.

The IISS brings together defense ministers, chiefs of defense, and other high-ranking government officials from across the Middle East.

In the UAE, Austin will meet with senior officials to underscore the bilateral relationship.

According to a news release, Iran will be a topic in many of the discussions.

"It's not lost on me that this trip comes at a time when Iran is stoking tensions and undermining stability in the region," Austin said in a statement. "We remain deeply committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And I've said before, no problem in the Middle East gets easier to solve with a nuclear-armed Iran."

Austin will also meet with U.S. troops stationed in each country.