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Media Availability With Secretary Rumsfeld And King Hamad of Bahrain

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 04, 2003

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. I have been privileged to join the president in welcoming the -- His Majesty the King of Bahrain to the United States. He came in yesterday and met with the president, had a dinner last evening which was most enjoyable. And we have just had a meeting with our respective delegations.

As you know, Bahrain is a country that the United States has had a relation with -- a relationship with, a military relationship, for some 50 years. Bahrain is a non-NATO ally. It is a relationship in the global war on terrorism that has been just excellent. They have been so enormously helpful. His Majesty was here and met with the president yesterday to indicate his support for the president and for the global war on terrorism. And I want to say that those of us here in the United States are deeply appreciative of all his support and the assistance that he has provided.

Your Majesty.

King Hamad: We discussed with the secretary of Defense the issue of defense cooperation between our two countries in accordance with the existing agreement based on our historic relations. Bahrain is keen as a peace country to use all means to defend its people in a region that has suffered consecutive wars. Defense cooperation between Bahrain and the United States represents a key element in the defense system of the Arabian Gulf region, which maintains the flow of oil to the whole world, oil which underpins the global economy and ensures the continuity of trade between this vital region and all international markets. We are committed to secure all means to defend our countries in order to preserve peace and stability before anything else.

For the sake of peace, we urge Iraq to comply with the international inspectors so that the people of the region can avoid another war. Because peace by its nature is an integral process, the continuation of the peace process in the Middle East is a vital matter, and we are confident that the United States, because of its global weight, is able to play an essential role in ending the circle of violence and in reaching an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, a final peace that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state side by side with a secure Israel in the interest of all nations in the region.

I'd like to add that the president's reception and welcome showed the warm relationship that exists between Bahrain and the United States, which we will maintain out of our belief that the president's goals are for peace in our region. And peace means progress and development. And today the secretary of Defense confirmed to me, as well that this is the policy of the president is what we all should work for. And I'd like to thank him for his hospitality and wonderful lunch and meeting with you.

Please.

Rumsfeld: His majesty has agreed to respond to a few questions. I'm going to defer questions to me until later this afternoon, as I understand we're going to have a meeting.

Barbara?

Q: Sir, can you tell us, if Saddam Hussein does not comply with the inspectors, do you and your government favor a U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq? And why or why not, sir?

King Hamad: If he does not comply?

Q: Right. Do you favor a U.S. military-led invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power? And can you explain your reasoning behind that support?

King Hamad: Well, the reason is very simple; it's a United Nations resolution -- I believe it's 1441 -- that we all should comply with that.

Q: So you do favor an invasion of Iraq, sir?

King Hamad: How do you implement 1441 is for the world community to decide.

Q: Sir, my question is why will the Arab summit move from Bahrain to Cairo as the location?

And my second question is would Bahrain support the United States with the use of military facilities without a U.N. resolution clearly stating the use of force?

King Hamad: Bahrain's relationship with the United States goes way back, for more than almost 100 years and 50 years or more than that with the military. So, the military facilities in Bahrain [are]is not because of today's situation; [but] has been [there] for many years and I hope to say for another many years to [come]-- ahead.

And moving the summit from Bahrain to Cairo is just an administrative issue. Bahrain [was] is going to have the summit at [one] the date, [but] the situation -- as the secretary-general of the Arab League suggested, we might need an earlier summit. That contradicts a little bit with the administrative arrangements only.

Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.

King Hamad: Thank you.

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