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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Your Royal Highness, it's a real pleasure to host you and your delegation to the Pentagon again.  We're delighted to have you back, sir.

Let me start by congratulating you on signing the Comprehensive Security Integration and Prosperity Agreement yesterday with Secretary Blinken.  That was a big day, we have both been looking forward to this.

This important bilateral agreement will deepen our already strong relationship, and it underscores America's commitment not only to Bahrain but to the entire region.  It gives us a framework for cooperation in areas from security and trade to technology and information-sharing.  And together we will demonstrate that integration and inclusion are the path to security, stability and prosperity.

The United States remains committed to Bahrain and to the region.  And we will continue to work with you to push back against all threats to regional stability, both from states and non-state actors.

I also want to congratulate you on the three-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, including the recent visit from Israel's foreign minister to inaugurate the Israeli Embassy in Manama just this month.  Expanding this relationship will bring security and prosperity to the people of Bahrain and Israel.

And, sir, your presence here underscores Bahrain's commitment to and leadership in the rules-based international order that keeps us all safe.  And we appreciate that your foreign minister visited Ukraine earlier this year to see firsthand the devastation from Russia's aggression.  We stand firmly with the people of Ukraine, and we will continue to provide them with the security assistance that they need to defend themselves and their country.

Bahrain is also an active participant in coalition operations and a leader in maritime security.  In fact, Bahrain was the first country to join the International Maritime Security Construct.  And as always, we are grateful for your generous support for the service members and families of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and our Fifth Fleet, which is stationed in Bahrain.

So we have a lot to talk about today. Your Royal Highness, thanks for making the trip.  And I look forward to the discussion.  And over to you, sir.

PRIME MINISTER SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL KHALIFA:  Mr. Secretary, it gives me great pleasure to be here, back at the Pentagon, a building that I have visited and had the honor to visit many times.  And the level of cooperation, the level of planning, the level of effort that it takes to secure the work — or the region that we work towards securing, speaking about my region in the world, starts here, travels thousands of miles and gets executed very far from home.

So my thanks, first, to the servicemen and women of the U.S. armed forces to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude and who we are proud to serve alongside.

I would also, on the eve, or on the day after signing the C-SIPA agreement, like to thank everybody who was involved, from the president on down, here in the United States, people at State, here at Department of Defense and at the National Security Agency.  Because, outside of — well, I think this is the first public defense agreement that has been announced with any state in the Middle East, certainly of this level — that is publicly available.

So it gives me great pride that this construct is a platform and a foundation for many others to join, not just regionally.  You know, I have a vision that is even global in nature.  Because only by working together can nation-states, both very large and small, each in their own realm of responsibility, provide for a more stable and productive world.

There are moments in history when the geopolitical sands shift, and we are living through one such moment today.  And I think it is important that friends, especially long-term friends, gather around and recommit to building upon the strong foundations that already exist.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has been part of what I like to call the international rules-based order since 1816, since we signed the Trucial States Agreement with the then United Kingdom — well, the now United Kingdom — and the Royal Navy.  And we launched on a long, long process and historical journey that has brought us to this point.

So, Mr. Secretary, on behalf of my team and (inaudible) Sheikh Nasser, Foreign Minister, Minister of Finance chief of staff and all of you here today, I am deeply honored to be back at the Pentagon and to do some important work.

SEC. AUSTIN:  Again, Your Royal Highness, we're delighted to have you here, and a special welcome to Sheikh Nasser as well.