Tuesday, May 08, 2001 - 11:00 a.m. EDT
(Media availability with Amir Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain at the Pentagon River Entrance)
Rumsfeld: Good morning.
His Highness has just had a visit with the Pentagon and the senior officials in the Pentagon and his party. I must say that I had the pleasure yesterday to enjoy a meal with the president of the United States and His Highness. And the conversation was lively, the relationship was warm, and it's a reflection of a -- I guess, I don't know how many years, but many, many years between the United States and Bahrain, starting with a hospital and a relationship with the United States Navy and, of course, very close cooperation ever since.
So we're very pleased to have you here, Your Highness. And I will turn it over to you.
Shaikh Hamad: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It's true, the relationship between Bahrain and the United States goes way back to almost 100 years plus. And it's been years of cooperation, friendship and a great achievement. And all the United States leadership and presidents have taken great interest in the security of our region, just like the people of our region that wanted to live in peace so they can develop and can enjoy life.
And this is the main mission of my visit, is to again talk about cooperation and to talk about how we can achieve our objective by more development in our region and this world.
I thank the secretary for receiving us today. We had a fruitful talk for what we will do together in the future. It's just building -- it's nothing new -- it's building on what we've always know between Bahrain and the United States.
Thank you very much.
Q: Secretary, today you --
Rumsfeld: Excuse me, we'd be happy to take a question or two on the Middle East. Since I'm having a press briefing this afternoon I'd prefer to have questions on other subjects taken down there.
Q: Yes, about the Middle East, Mr. Secretary, have you discussed the Iraq situation and the U.S. military presence in Bahrain? (Speaks in Arabic.)
Shaikh Hamad: (In Arabic.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, please. Have you discussed the situation in Iraq and Bahrain's help in this new section?
Rumsfeld: We certainly discussed the Middle East and the situation in the Middle East. We had a good discussion about the U.S. naval presence in Bahrain and the fact that they are welcome and have been welcome for a great many years and what a fine relationship it's been.
Shaikh Hamad: Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could we just get a quick comment on the statements out of Beijing that it would be impossible for the U.S. to fly the plane back, and what do you read into that?
Rumsfeld: I'd simply say that the -- didn't I just say we ought to do that this afternoon? I thought I did.
Q: If we just get it out of the way we won't have to deal with it this afternoon. (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: The situation is that the Department of State, through the diplomatic channels, is discussing those matters with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. And we have only very recently received the information this morning with respect to the assessment team, and there will be discussions that will take place.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is the United States any closer, or is it drawing any closer to determining those responsible and announcing those responsible for the Khobar Towers bombing?
Rumsfeld: Khobar Towers. There has been, as I understand it, a long, long, long investigation on that subject. It would not be the Department of Defense that would have the facts as to how one would characterize it as to whether or not it's closer or not closer.
Q: Could you please evaluate the relations between Bahrain and the United States of America, especially after the new trends in openness in Bahrain and the new democratic atmosphere?
Rumsfeld: I'm sorry, I --
Q: How do you evaluate the cooperation --
Rumsfeld: His Highness and I have discussed some of the steps that he's taken, the impressive steps and reforms that have been taken, and it is certainly something that is encouraging, from the standpoint of the future and the opportunities in Bahrain.
Shaikh Hamad: (Off mike). Thank you.
Q: Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
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