The sudden death of His Highness Shaikh Isa, the Amir of Bahrain, is a great loss to the people of his country, to the Gulf region and to the United States. Since he became ruler in 1961, His Highness Shaikh Isa has been a force for peace and stability in the Middle East. He has also been a strong and loyal friend to the United States and particularly to the U.S. Navy.
When we met this morning, His Highness spoke of the need to work for peace in the region. This was the theme that he stressed in each of our many meetings, and during his visit with President Clinton last year. His tireless work for peace and stability is one of his greatest legacies.
The visionary leadership of His Highness Shaikh Isa has made Bahrain a modern center of business and industry in the Gulf. His care and concern for the people of Bahrain made him an effective and beloved leader.
I will miss his wise counsel, warm friendship and steady support for the efforts of the United States to promote peace in the region.
I look forward to working with His Highness Shaihk Hamad. Since founding the Bahrain Defense Force 30 years ago, he also has worked tirelessly for the security of Bahrain and for peace and stability in the region. I have worked closely with him for many years and consider him a loyal friend.