Bahrain King holds talks in Iran; Both states stress need to safeguard stability in Arab Gulf region
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa flew to Tehran Saturday for the first visit to Iran by the head of state of the Gulf monarchy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the official BNA news agency said.
Sheikh Hamad was during a two-day visit to seek to "develop and enhance cordial relations bonding the two Islamic nations" during talks with Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami.
Khatami and Sheikh Hamad on Saturday stressed the need to safeguard security and stability in the Arab Gulf. The two heads of state exchanged views on ways to bolster regional security through cooperation among the neighboring states, IRNA said.
President Khatami said, "What is crucial for the sensitive region of the Persian Gulf is security and it will be available through close cooperation among the regional states for progress and development on the basis of mutual respect."
Sheikh Hamad bin Isa said that it is the time for solidarity and consultation for the brotherly nations of Iran and Bahrain. The Bahraini leader stated that security and stability is of prime importance to the region and called for development of bilateral cooperation.
"As much as we develop Tehran-Manama relations, it still lags behind the expectations of our two nations. We will do our utmost in this respect," Bahrain's king said.
Hamad is expected to meet Sunday Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.
Bahrain normalized relations with Shiite-dominated Iran after 1997, with the rise to power of the reformist Khatami, exchanging ambassadors in January 1999. Manama had previously accused Tehran of fueling unrest in the country, where a Sunni ruling family governs a mainly Shiite population.
But, various press reports last month quoted Bahraini Defense Minister Khalifa bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa as saying that while Iran sought cooperation with the Gulf monarchies it also supported fundamentalist Islamic movements.
The king's delegation includes Foreign Minister, Mohammad bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Trade and Industry Minister Ali Saleh al-Saleh and Finance Minister Abdullah Saif. The foreign minister said Thursday the visit "should contribute to strengthening economic and trade cooperation between the two countries." (Albawaba.com)
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