India and Bahrain on Wednesday agreed to further strengthen their historic ties, including in areas of defence and maritime security, as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Bahraini counterpart discussed the entire gamut of bilateral issues as well as regional and global matters of mutual interest.
Jaishankar arrived on Tuesday on the first leg of his six-day three-nation tour to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles. His two-day maiden visit to Bahrain is seen as important as it comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the world.
The external affairs minister held delegation-level talks with his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani during which the two sides discussed the entire gamut of bilateral issues as well as regional and global matters of mutual interest including cooperation and coordination in dealing with post-Covid challenges, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
"They agreed to further strengthen the historic India-Bahrain ties including in areas of defence and maritime security, space technology, trade and investment, infrastructure, IT, FinTech, health, hydrocarbon and renewable energy,” the statement said.
Jaishankar renewed invitation to his Bahraini counterpart for visiting India for the 3rd India-Bahrain High Joint Commission meeting in the next few months.
He called on Bahrain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is also the Crown Prince and the Deputy Supreme Commander. He conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s greetings to Prince Salman on his appointment as the Prime Minister of Bahrain.
"Appreciated his warm sentiments towards India, his personal care for the Indian community in Bahrain and his insights on international politics. Confident that under his leadership, our partnership will further strengthen,” Jaishankar tweeted after meeting Prince Salman.
He also called on Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.
"During his meetings, the minister personally conveyed, on behalf of the Government and people of India, sincere condolences on the sad demise of Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, former prime minister of Bahrain.
He recalled the contribution of the late prime minister in strengthening India-Bahrain relations and for the welfare of the Indian community in the Gulf Kingdom.
Prince Khalifa, one of the world's longest serving prime ministers, died on November 11 at the age of 84 in the US where he was undergoing treatment for age-related ailment. He was buried on November 13.
The uncle of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Prince Khalifa had served as prime minister of Bahrain from 1970 until his death, having taken office over a year before Bahrain's independence in 1971.
Jaishankar also thanked the leadership of Bahrain for hosting more than 300,000 strong Indian community in the Gulf Kingdom and for taking exceptional care of the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bahrain’s leadership appreciated the contribution of the Indian community to the development of the kingdom and the assistance provided by India during the Covid pandemic through the supply of medicines, medical equipment and medical professionals.
"Both sides affirmed to further strengthen their Covid-related cooperation. They also expressed satisfaction on the operationalisation of Air Bubble arrangement between the two countries,” the statement said.
The novel coronavirus has infected over 85,800 people and claimed 339 lives in the oil-rich Gulf nation.
According to the website of the Indian Embassy in Bahrain, the country has around 350,000 Indian nationals, which comprise a third of Bahrain's total population of 1.4 million.
Jaishankar also interacted with the members of the Indian diaspora in Bahrain via video conference and appreciated their valuable contributions to the strengthening of the bilateral ties.
He visited the 200-year old Lord Sri Krishna temple in Manama. He also visited National Museum of Bahrain.
Last year, Prime Minister Modi had launched the USD 4.2 million redevelopment project of the temple.
From Bahrain, Jaishankar will travel to UAE where he is scheduled to meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.