TEHRAN (Fars News Agency) Strong bilateral ties were hailed as Bahraini leaders yesterday received visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Deputy King Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa separately discussed progress in various fields with the Iranian minister.
Shaikh Salman also stressed the kingdom’s desire to bolster cooperation in all fields.
The Premier and Mottaki discussed ways of developing trade exchanges by activating agreements and memorandums of understanding, especially in natural gas from Iran.
Shaikh Khalifa said that the visits by the two countries’ leaders have cemented bilateral ties and promoted regional peace and stability.
He also stressed the kingdom’s keenness to further boost economic links for stronger political relations.
Mottaki affirmed his country’s resolve to back up every step towards bolstering relations with Bahrain, lauding the kingdom’s successful economic policies.
He conveyed the greetings of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and First Vice-President Parviz Davoudi to the Premier, renewing his invitation to visit Tehran.
Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and his Iranian counterpart led their countries’ delegations at a meeting of the Bahraini-Iranian joint committee.
Shaikh Khalid and Mottaki reviewed cooperation in business, tourism, cultural, environmental, health and agricultural fields with special focus on oil and gas, at the joint committee meetings.
They also agreed that a joint technical team, concerned with oil and gas, will hold a meeting in Manama by the middle of next month.
The importance of engaging the private sector in all cooperation fields was also stressed.
They also agreed to hold next year’s meeting in Tehran.
Addressing a joint Press conference with the Bahraini foreign minister, Mottaki said Iran’s policy is based on development of its ties with regional countries, a strategy shared by both sides.
He further pointed to his country’s intensive efforts to establish a free trade agreement with the Persian Gulf states.
He also welcomed a call by His Majesty King Hamad for security cooperation.
Regarding the UAE, Mottaki said that there was an ongoing dialogue between the two countries and affirmed the need to further bolster cooperation.
He said that bilateral trade exchange between the UAE and Iran reached $14 billion this year.
To a question on Iranian-Egyptian relations, Mottaki said both the countries were already bound economically to each other and would soon resume diplomatic links.
Fruitful discussions in this respect have taken place, he added.
The Iranian minister said that reports released recently by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the US Central Intelligence Agency were evidence of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
Iran is deemed a promising trade partner for Bahrain, contributing 1.3pc of the total volume of the kingdom’s foreign non-oil trade exchange.
According to the latest statistics released by Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bahrain-Iran non-oil commercial exchange has gone up from BD12,7 million in 2004 to BD37,5m in 2005, recording a 195.3pc increase, a level that was maintained till the end of 2006.
However, bilateral trade exchange hit $200m (BD75.6) every year, Mottaki said.