Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday, 27 October, held talks with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.
The talks centred on the international financial crisis, the situation in the Gulf and the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear issue and the further development of bilateral relations. Both sides emphasized the potential for cooperation in the economic and industrial sectors, on the development of the railway network and in the fields of education and health. The two foreign ministers signed a declaration of intent on increased political exchange between their respective ministries.
Federal Minister Steinmeier spoke highly of the amicable bilateral relations between Germany and Bahrain and welcomed the proposal made by the Bahraini side of establishing a regional forum to discuss means of solving regional conflicts, which should include all states in the Middle East.
"This proposal signals an encouraging readiness to enter into dialogue – to Israel, too. It is a positive sign that initiatives for greater stability and a reconciliation of interests in the Middle East are increasingly coming from the regional stakeholders themselves. The German Government welcomes all steps in this direction and will actively support them."
In his talks, the Federal Foreign Minister referred to the strategic role played by the Gulf states for peace and stability in the region and called for a deepening of relations with the European Union. In this context, Steinmeier once again expressed his hope that the negotiations between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council on a free trade agreement will be brought to a speedy conclusion.
Today's talks marked the start of the Minister's four-day trip to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Key themes in the Gulf states will include the situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East, the nuclear dispute with Iran, as well as how to manage the current international financial crisis and its consequences.