DUBAI,11th May 2016 (WAM) – Any idea that the US is disengaging from this region is false, a State Department spokesperson told delegates at the Arab Media Forum, being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“US has shared challenges in the region. We are not easing off our engagement in the Middle East,” said Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department.

He was responding to a question by Nart Bouran, CEO Sky News Arabia who asked if the US troop withdrawal from Iraq was indicative of disengagement, during the session on ‘US-Arab Diplomacy: The Way Forward.’ Referring to the recent meeting of US President Barack Obama with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders, Toner said it was a good opportunity to discuss key security and strategic issues. “We need to stay involved in this region.”

Referring to the Iran nuclear deal, he said the US is not dismissive of any misgivings. It is incumbent on us to explain why it is a good deal for the region and the world. We believe we have taken the nuclear deal off the table, but have kept the tools we need to address Iran’s behaviour in other areas,” Toner said.

Praises UAE, Saudi Referring to Yemen, Toner said the UAE and Saudi Arabia have taken a lead role in confronting security challenges. “It is not a US-led operation, but we did provide support.”

Toner said Daesh is a common threat to the region that needs to be confronted. “Over the past one year, the coalition has done a pretty good job – but needs to do more.

“In Syria, the situation on the ground is very fluid very fragile. We recognize we have to work with Russia. We recognize Russia needs to be part of the solution,” Toner added.

The Arab Media Forum 2016 is being attended by more than 2,000 delegates from the region and the wider world. A third of the speakers this year are foreign experts. In keeping with the tradition of Innovation in the UAE, AMF 2016 features two key concepts – The Media Walk; and Davos-style 20-minute sessions. Additionally, AMF 2015 also features workshops.