Remarks With Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. It’s my pleasure to welcome Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa, the foreign minister of Bahrain. And I’m very happy to have had a chance this morning to have a thorough, in-depth discussion on all of the issues of concern in the region and the issues that we worked on bilaterally.
Needless to say, we focused significantly on the challenge of the regional conflict, the people in Syria, and Daesh. We talked about ways in which we can cooperate and increase the regional cooperation in the effort to deal with Daesh. Sheikh Khalid had some constructive ideas about ways in which we think we could augment the current efforts. And I’m going to review those here with our team, and we will continue that conversation.
Khalid and I have actually been meeting many, many times now in various parts of the world as we met in the Syria context with the London 11, the Syrian Support Group, and so forth. And Bahrain has been a contributing partner to these counterterrorism efforts.
In addition, we talked about the post-Camp David and Doha meetings that we held to discuss ways in which we will build a regional security structure. We are discussing ballistic missile defense that is united among all the countries of the Gulf states in order to augment security. And finally, we also discussed the internal challenges of the reconciliation and the process of trying to bring people together in Bahrain to reduce the sectarian divisions which we saw resulted in a boycott of an election and challenges internally within the country.
I know that His Majesty, King Hamad, and the crown prince have worked diligently to try to reach out and engage in a process. We encourage that process. And at some point in the not too distant future, I look forward to visiting Bahrain – a visit which is overdue. And we will continue to work together very closely on all of these issues, including the internal challenges with which the minister talked to me about very directly and very candidly. We’ve always had a good exchange on that with the crown prince and otherwise.
So on that note, it’s my pleasure to introduce Sheikh Ahmed.
FOREIGN MINISTER AL-KHALIFA: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It’s an honor to be here with my delegation to see you in the State Department. You are a good friend, and we’ve always met. And when we meet outside in the international fora we tend to forget our normal schedule of meetings, but here we are – here we discuss important matters.
The relationship between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Bahrain is an important one, not only in a bilateral sense but also for the whole region. It’s a bulwark of this whole relationship that is now growing and evolving with a wider GCC and also the rest of the reason. We will continue to be committed to this partnership. We’ve worked together; we’ve fought wars together; we defended the world together against extremism, against terrorism; and today we are committed as ever against Daesh. This is a challenge to the whole world. This is an enemy of humanity, and we will remain to do everything we can with the United States of America, with the important countries of the region to defeat this enemy and to make sure that their region is stable. And we do appreciate your help and your work.
You mentioned the issue of extremism and sectarianism, how it is affecting countries of the region. Well, in Bahrain we are – with all the efforts that we have done together with our people in Bahrain and with the very nature of the Bahraini people, sectarianism failed in kind of having a foothold in our country, but we will continue to be on our toes facing it. We will continue to make sure that the people come together. And we will continue to move forward.
We know it’s a challenging time. We know that this is a time that this whole region is going through this challenge of sectarianism and extremism, but that will not deter us from making sure that our country is moving forward and never looking backward.
Again, therefore, I am very thankful, Mr. Secretary, my dear friend and colleague, for receiving me with my delegation today. And I look forward to see you very shortly in Bahrain and – really look forward. Thank you very, very much.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, everybody.
FOREIGN MINISTER AL-KHALIFA: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you.