Minister of Foreign Affairs, U.S. Special Representative for Iran hold joint press conference
Manama, June 29 (BNA): The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, affirmed the Kingdom’s appreciation of the continuous efforts exerted by the United States of America to preserve the security and stability of the countries of the region and defend their interests, highlighting the efforts of the US Navy in protecting international trade and navigation routes in the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab. This came during a press conference held by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to Secretary of State, Brian Hook، who is on an official visit to a number of countries in the region to discuss the latest political and security developments. Al Zayani noted the meeting of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, with the U.S. Representative for Iran, where they affirmed the strength of cooperation and strategic partnership between Bahrain and the U.S. The minister also noted the discussions he held with Hook dealt with relations of cooperation and coordination between the two friendly countries, where he stressed the importance of the efforts undertaken by the U.S. to extend the arms embargo on Iran, and to tighten the sanctions imposed on it due to Iran's behavior in the region, as it provided arms to militias in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq, and its continued interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the region, in addition to its insistence on not adhering to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Al Zayani pointed out that Bahrain has firmly faced all Iranian interference in its internal affairs, where the Bahraini competent security services were able to thwart many Iranian terrorist schemes, and arrest members of the terrorist organizations entrusted with carrying out plots with the support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. He also pointed to Iran's support for terrorists and extremists in Bahrain with weapons, explosives and training, which resulted in the killing of 35 civilians and security officers, and wounded about 3,500 civilians and security personnel, many of whom seriously injured or with permanent disabilities, in addition to nearly 29,000 acts of sabotage. The minister said that the two sides underscored the necessity of countering Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the region, ending the direct support provided by Iran to Hezbollah terrorist groups, extremist militias and the Houthi group in Yemen, and ending its attempt to impede the efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the Yemeni crisis. They also agreed that Iran stands behind the hostilities against Saudi Arabia, by attacking the Saudi Aramco oil installations, and by the Houthi bombing of populated areas with Iranian-made ballistic missiles and drones. Al Zayani reaffirmed Bahrain’s support to the U.S. efforts to address the repercussions of the Iranian nuclear program, including Iran's continuation of its program to develop ballistic missiles, especially those capable of carrying nuclear warheads, stressing the need for Iran to adhere to the agreement on its nuclear program. In this regard, he noted that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have always demanded that the Arabian Gulf region and the Middle East be made free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The minister also stressed that Bahrain has always been calling for normal relations with Iran based on the principles of good neighborliness, non-interference in internal affairs and the need to resolve disputes amicably and peacefully through constructive dialogue, which reflects the Kingdom’s keenness on achieving peace and stability in the region. Hook praised the vision of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on promoting and establishing the values of tolerance and religious freedom in Bahrain, hailing the Kingdom’s achievements in various fields. He also highlighted the strength of relations between the two countries, lauding Bahrain’s strategic role in enhancing stability and security, making the Kingdom the best ally in the region for the U.S. He expressed his pleasure in meeting His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Addressing the weapons smuggled by Iran to its proxies in Bahrain, Hook stressed the necessity of extending the arms embargo on Iran, as this embargo has lasted for 13 years and has been effective in undermining the access of weapons exported by Iran to its proxies in the region and in Bahrain, emphasizing that the expiration of this embargo will enable Iran to strengthen its stockpiles of arms and enhance its maritime capabilities, which threatens navigation and trade. The U.S. official said that the international community should listen to the countries of the region that refuse to lift the arms embargo, stressing that lifting the embargo will undermine security in the region, which is not acceptable to the UN and is considered a breach of the United Nations Charter aiming to enhance security and stability. Hook stated that the U.S. will work to prevent the lift of arms embargo on Iran, until Iran changes its behavior and stops supporting terrorist organizations and attacking its neighbors in the region, stressing that this embargo will continue with the support and efforts of states in the region and the efforts of Bahrain. He noted that the U.S. added to its terror list the Iranian-backed organization of Saraya Al Ashtar which was responsible for a number of terrorist acts in Bahrain, as they carried out a bombing attack in 2014 that killed two policemen and another one in 2017 that resulted in the death of a policeman, confirming that Bahrain and the U.S. will continue their partnership in order to combat such terrorist organizations.