New dimension to Bahrain’s Foreign Relations

International Relations of Bahrain were at the forefront in the news this week. And I observed an outstanding display of excellence in the way the leadership of this country interacted with US on one side, and with India on another side.

On the US front, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and the First Deputy Prime Minister HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa met with a host of members from US administrative leadership; right from its President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Defense Secretary to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His US trip gave a resurgence and renewal to bi-lateral relations.

On the India front, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Prime Minister HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa gave a very warm and friendly reception to the visiting Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed, expressing appreciation for the contribution of Indian expatriates to the Kingdom. Their reception gave a special boost to the mood of the labour market in the kingdom while strengthening ties with India, one of world’s fastest growing economies.The visit was effectively initiated and facilitated by Indian Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar.

While His Majesty the King stressed the need for India to play a leading role in the Middle East region, HRH the Prime Minister wished to see more high level visits between Bahrain and India.

It is clear that this country’s leadership is leaving no stone unturned in maintaining healthy relations with countries from the east and west, despite sporadic disturbances within the country.

The government’s consistent and wise efforts in embracing and enhancing international cooperation show us the resilience of a nation wedded to the principles of good diplomacy. Not only is this country maintaining its sovereignty and integrity but also its standing and dignity.

Unfazed by elements that are trying to slow down its progress, the country is keeping a firm foothold, on the right place, and is ensuring that the flag of Bahrain is always flying high; especially in the way it deals with International community.

Following the Crown Prince’s meeting with President Obama this week, a Press Statement released by White House on June 5, said “The President reaffirmed the importance of the United States’ partnership with Bahrain and our commitment to further strengthening the ties between our two countries”.

The statement had also said “The President conveyed the United States’ firm support for Bahrain’s National Dialogue, launched by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, and noted that the United States continues to encourage all sides to engage constructively to achieve progress.  The President commended the Crown Prince’s commitment to advancing reform in Bahrain, and underscored that the United States will continue to support these efforts”.   

We also see that US Vice President Joe Biden extended his support to Bahrain and America’s shared interest in the Kingdom’s security, stability and reform and welcomed Bahrain’s continuing reform programme, which he said was essential and timely.

It is not surprising to note that both, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have expressed their continued support to the Kingdom in its reform process and in its effort to maintain stability in the middle-eastern region that is going through a major upheaval.

Of special significance, I think, is Secretary Hagel underscoring the importance of the strong defense relationship, which is the foundation of the nearly seven decade-old US-Bahrain bilateral partnership. He had thanked Prince Salman during their meeting for Bahrain’s hosting of US Fifth Fleet Headquarters and for the Kingdom’s support to thousands of American defence personnel, who are deployed to Bahrain, and who are here with their families.

The emphasis during yet another meeting of Prince Salman, this time with the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, was on “the strategic cooperation and coordination in order to maintain regional stability and maritime security in the Arabian Gulf”. This is obviously the need of the hour.

As Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa says, this visit has added a new dimension in boosting the cooperation between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the US.

Whether it is the way the King and the Prime Minister are dealing with Indian leaders, or whether it is the way the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister is dealing with US leaders, one thing is clearly evident. This country’s leadership is earnest and eager to maintain not only internal security, but also regional stability.