MANAMA, Bahrain, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says potential U.S. foes would be mistaken to "test" the country's new president for signs of weakness.
Gates, who has been retained by President-elect Barack Obama is his Pentagon leadership post, told a security conference in Bahrain that Obama will be able to defend U.S. interests "from the moment he takes office on January 20th," the BBC reported.
"Anyone who thought that the upcoming months might present opportunities to test the new administration would be sorely mistaken," Gates said. "President Obama and his national security team, myself included, will be ready to defend the interests of the United States and our friends and allies from the moment he takes office on January 20th."
Gates said that he and Obama are not seeking "regime change" in Iran, but did say they wanted to see "a change in policies and a change in behavior."
The BBC said Gates again urged Sunni Arab countries to back Iraq with full diplomatic ties.