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Myers Meets with Bahraini Leaders During Middle East Trip

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MANAMA, Bahrain, April 13, 2004 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived here today on a long-planned trip to consult with allies in the region.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said the visit is to "move our military-to- military relationship along." He said he will discuss matters in Iraq and in the greater war on terrorism.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and has been a major non-NATO ally of the United States since 2001.

Myers said he "obviously" will discuss Iraq. He said the instability there is not good for the region, and that all nations in the Persian Gulf understand that. He said he is not asking for specific capabilities or materials from Bahrain, but is looking for advice on the way forward.

The chairman will meet with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, Defense Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and his counterpart, Maj. Gen. Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, chief of staff of the Bahrain Defense Forces.

He said he will discuss Bahrain's continued support to the coalition effort in Iraq. He said the Gulf States Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman are concerned that the United States will not see the situation in Iraq through. "The president on down has made our intentions clear that the United States will not be pulling out of Iraq (with the mission undone)," Myers said during a meeting with reporters traveling with him. "That's not an issue, but it's the kind of thing that others need to hear and be reassured on."

He will also meet with the 5th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. David C. Nichols Jr., and with American embassy officials.

Bahrain has been a close ally for years, an embassy official said. But many in the oil-rich kingdom are upset with instability in Iraq. More than half of the population of the kingdom is Shiia Muslim, and they identify with their brethren in Iraq, the official said.

Biographies:
Gen. Richard B. Myers
Vice Adm. David C. Nichols Jr.

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Related Sites:
Joint Chiefs of Staff
5th Fleet
State Department Background Notes on Bahrain


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