Bahraini Undersecretary for Political Affairs discusses bilateral relations and Abraham Accords at Arab News Japan event
TOKYO: Bahrain’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and his Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated in an Arab News Japan panel discussion in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Speaking at the discussion, which took place at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, where Arab News Japan was launched nearly three years ago, Al-Khalifa began his speech by mourning the former Japanese prime minister. , Shinzo Abe.
He said: “I would like to express our deepest condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Abe. He was a great leader who served his country and worked for the development of bilateral relations between Bahrain and Japan and we remember his historic visit to Bahrain in 2013.”
He then talked about strengthening bilateral relations through the sixth Japan-Bahrain political dialogue he undertook in Tokyo with a delegation from Bahrain.
In light of this year marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, he added, “We are commemorating the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Bahrain and Japan, and we have already started a series of events to celebrate.
“Japan-Bahrain relations go even further, as Bahrain has engaged in trade with Japan for over 90 years. The first oil well in the Gulf was in Bahrain in 1932 and our first international oil cargo was shipped to Japan in 1934 and has been growing ever since. Commercial ties replace our diplomatic ties.
A year ago, Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, a series of US-brokered diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab states. Al-Khalifa discussed the effect of the agreement on Bahrain’s relations regionally and internationally, while highlighting how the Palestinian people have benefited from Bahrain’s initiative.
He said, “The signing of the Abraham Accords and the establishment of bilateral relations with Israel stem from the simple objective of building visions of peace and prosperity with the countries of the region.
“Bahrain is a diverse, multicultural island with a long-standing and deeply rooted cultural heritage of religious tolerance, acceptance and coexistence.
He pointed out that apart from Muslims, “we have Christians, Jews, Hindus, Baha’is, all living side by side in peace.”
Al-Khalifa reiterated Bahrain’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the country’s commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state. “Bahrain fully supports the Palestinians in their historic cause, that of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.
“Establishing relations with Israel does not mean abandoning the Palestinians or changing Bahrain’s position towards supporting the Palestinians. On the contrary, we think it will improve it in the sense that establishing open communications, establishing trust in trust, would provide a platform to develop this,” he added.
Regarding relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Al-Khalifa said the two nations agreed to strengthen cooperation on all political issues and work together to develop common positions that safeguard security and stability in the region. .
“The relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is a strategic relationship and spans centuries, and currently Saudi Arabia is our largest trading partner, and we are very confident in our commitment to strengthening all areas of cooperation between our two countries at the highest level.
“Thus, there is a permanent working mechanism at the highest level, with five different committees each chaired by a minister to follow up every issue of the bilateral relations. The leaders of the two countries are fully committed to ensuring regional security and stability at the following the success of the Security Development Summit (hosted by Saudi Arabia in Jeddah).
He noted that King Salman’s leadership in Saudi Arabia was “more needed than ever” in the region and highlighted Bahrain’s membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council and its collaboration with Saudi Arabia, chair of the GCC, on diverse topics.
On the prospect of collaboration between Japan and Bahrain in new fields such as space, Al-Khalifa told Arab News Japan: “Cooperation in the space sector is one of the new additions of our cooperation. The Bahrain Space Agency is cooperating with JAXA, which helped Bahrain launch its first artificial satellite.
“And we look forward to strengthening this bilateral cooperation between our space agencies and JAXA, concretizing it in an agreement that will hopefully be signed soon. It was one of the areas that were discussed.
The discussion was moderated by Arab News Japan regional manager Ali Itani and opened to a Q&A session by major Japanese media outlets including NHK, Mainichi Shimbun, Jiji Press and Kyodo News.
The roundtable was attended by Bahrain’s Ambassador to Japan, Ahmed Al-Doseri, as well as Bahrain’s delegation consisting of government officials and members of the business community.