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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Your Royal Highness, it's really good to see you again, and I'm glad to be able to host you at the Pentagon. 

Of course, Russia's unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine is on everyone's mind, and we're standing squarely with the people of Ukraine, and we continue to provide them with security assistance to defend themselves and their country. 

We're also working hard to ensure the defense of NATO's eastern flank and to bolster the capabilities of our allies. We take our collective defense requirements very, very seriously, as you know Your Royal Highness. And I'm looking forward to your views on Russia's war of choice and the security situation in Europe, but I'm also looking forward to discussing a range of other issues that are important to the both of our countries.

Now, I had a great visit to Bahrain just a few months ago, and I always have great visits to Bahrain, and thanks for your tremendous hospitality. We are committed to our strong defense partnership, and we're especially grateful for your continued generosity towards U.S. forces, including hosting U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and our Navy's Fifth Fleet. 

Bahrain is an important maritime security leader, and the evidence of that is a fact that you host the International Maritime Security Construct and combined maritime forces. We know that we can depend on Bahrain as a major non-NATO ally, and you showed that yet again, with your invaluable support to last year's historic Afghan evacuation mission.

Now, strong partners are especially important given the threats that we face today, including Iran's support for terrorism and its illicit supply of weapons across the region. We'll work together with you to confront these threats, and of course, we remain committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. 

Now, Bahrain has also demonstrated its role as a regional leader by taking the courageous step of establishing a lasting partnership with Israel. That is a momentous decision that will make the region more secure. So let me congratulate you on the historic recent visits to Manama by the Israeli prime minister and the minister of defense, as well as on the Bahrain-Israel defense cooperation agreement. So we're going to work together with Bahrain, Israel, and our regional partners to strengthen air defenses, counter unmanned aerial systems and to bolster maritime security. 

Your Royal Highness, thanks again for being here today. I look forward to our discussion about how to deepen this great partnership. Sir?

BAHRAIN CROWN PRINCE SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL KHALIFA: Mr. Secretary, you amply covered all of the great challenges which face us jointly and as a global community today. I think in times of crisis, it is always important for good friends to meet and to share ideas and to explore, maybe, ideas that their time has come.

There is no doubt in my mind that the international world order that was established after World War II and has guaranteed the peace for so many decades, is at its most fragile as we sit here today. And I think, thinking about our shared collective security in a new way is something that we should all be willing to explore.

We are very proud of our partnership to the United States. This is our 75th year that we have hosted the U.S. Navy in the Kingdom of Bahrain. That's a long time, and it is a deep and generational relationship. (EDIT: Sentence Omitted) And so on and so forth through the years, I have had the privilege, along with many people in the Kingdom of Bahrain, to have worked alongside, that have fought alongside American forces. And through our shared responsibility, we have protected much of the global trade and physical structure that really supplies the world with its energy, or has, up until this point, supplied the world with its energy, and guaranteed the stability and security to the best of our ability in our part of the world.

Now, Mr. Secretary, there are many issues which I would like to discuss with you. Some of them are bilateral, some are regional and some are global, but I look forward to the time, and I'm very appreciative of you receiving us here today.

SEC. AUSTIN: Well, thanks for being here, Your Royal Highness, and I look forward to our discussion. Thank you.