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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Amir 'Isa Khalifa of Bahrain

October 15, 1991

The President. Your Highness, it is my great honor to welcome you to the White House today and to have this opportunity to consult with you on the many challenges that face our two countries and to convey my heartfelt thanks to you, a valued coalition partner. Bahrain has been a firm friend and a close ally for half a century but never more than in this past year as we've stood together to turn back aggression.

Your Highness, we spoke together many times in the aftermath of August 2d and at key moments during Desert Storm, and never once did you waver. Always you stood strong and resolute. From its strategic position in the Gulf, Bahrain served as a key staging point in Desert Storm. Your air force, the Bahraini air force, helped the coalition secure the air superiority so decisive to victory. Bahrain endured Scud attacks, shook off Saddam's desperate attempt to sow terror, and emerged each time more determined to prevail.

Your Highness, your country's conduct in this crisis is a credit to your leadership and to the courage of the people of Bahrain. Just as we joined forces to liberate Kuwait, common action remains a key to meeting the challenges we face today.

In a few minutes, we'll begin our meetings, building on the common ground we share. And let me focus now on our approach to Iraq, and let me state our position in the simplest possible terms. Saddam Hussein will not scorn the will of the world. Iraq must never again threaten its neighbors. We will keep the pressure on until we are satisfied that all of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them have been destroyed, until a new leadership in Iraq stands ready to live in peace with its neighbors.

Your Highness, as leader of a country that knows too well what it means to be menaced by Saddam, I know you join me in looking ahead to the day Iraq closes this sad chapter in its history and joins the cause of peace. I've said many times, and I'll repeat it here, that our quarrel has never been with the people of Iraq. The United States, in concert with the United Nations, has proposed a comprehensive program allowing Iraq to resume oil exports to fund the purchase of food and medicine. But the international community deserves to know with certainty that the food and medicine purchased under this plan reach the people of Iraq rather than Saddam's armed forces.

This program can go forward the instant Saddam Hussein accepts U.N. Resolutions 706 and 712 and puts in place a U.N.-supervised system to monitor oil exports and food distribution. History teaches that the consequences of war echo far beyond the battlefield. Our coalition in the Gulf war did more than defeat an aggressor. Our common effort created new opportunities for lasting peace throughout the Middle East. All Americans hope to see this region, so long driven by war, blessed by peace. In that spirit, the United States supports Bahrain's decision to participate along with its GCC partners in the upcoming peace conference. This readiness, this willingness to reach out strengthens the prospect for the only peace that can endure, a fair and comprehensive peace acceptable to all parties in the region.

Your Highness, from the moment the first American engineers arrived in your country to help develop your oil resources some 60 years ago, our countries have worked together in many ways. Our discussions today will touch on all aspects of our relations, from investment opportunities to security cooperation. And, as always, we seek to build on common ground, on the goodwill of nations that have worked together in the past, the goodwill that gives us faith in a better future.

Once again, Your Highness, it is my pleasure to meet with you today for what I'm confident will be productive discussions.

Welcome to the White House, and may God bless the people of Bahrain.

The Amir. Mr. President, it is a pleasure for me to be visiting this great country at your kind invitation. And I sincerely appreciate the warmth and the friendship shown to myself and to my delegation. It's also given me great pleasure, Mr. President, to extend to you and to all the American people, my heartfelt greetings and the warm wishes of the people of Bahrain.

During my visit here, I'm looking forward to renewing our longstanding and mutual valued friendship, to exchanging views on matters of mutual interest to our two countries. The links between the United States and Bahrain have developed in many fields for well over half a century. The cooperation between our two countries first began in the 1940's and has strengthened considerably since then, more particularly so during the last decade.

Through the Iran-Iraq war, we worked closely together to insure freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf, and more recently as a part of a multinational effort to reverse the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. Our people and forces were united as never before. This experience will never be forgotten and has formed a deep bond between our two countries.

I take this opportunity to sincerely thank you, Mr. President, and the American people for your courageous stand against aggression and for your determination that right and justice should prevail. Your stand in the multinational effort is undoubtedly a major positive contribution to future international relations. The association between the United States and Bahrain stands as an example of what can be achieved irrespective of physical size, distance apart, or cultural differences.

When goodwill and cooperation exist on both sides, it is our duty to continue to work together and through the United Nations to insure that peace and stability prevails between all nations. Mr. President, the world is currently witnessing major political and ideological changes, and we must all assure that the rules of law and civilized conduct are not overshadowed during these transformations.

As a superpower, the United States has a major role to play in this respect. I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. President, to praise you and your administration for your commitment to reducing confrontation and to promoting peace and cooperation through the world. We have recently witnessed the end of the cold war, following the rapid collapse of historic East-West confrontation. It is my belief that we are currently also on the verge of a major breakthrough in the peace process in the Middle East, based on United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.

There is no doubt that the United States has been a major catalyst to what has been achieved in these events. Our strategic cooperation, however, should not be allowed to overshadow the many other closed links between Bahrain and the United States. These include: trade, commerce, education, science, and technology. These links have brought the people of our two countries close together, and there now exists many strong personal relationships between the Americans and Bahrainis. These personal relationships are the true test of friendship between our two countries.

To this end, the American Bahrain Friendship Society was founded in Washington last year. And both the society and all its members have my sincere good wishes and support for the future. It is my hope that my visit will further consolidate the many ties between our two countries. It is my wish and the wish of the Bahraini people that our close relationship with the United States will continue to flourish and prosper in the years ahead, and become even stronger in the 21st century.

On this occasion, I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. President, to renew my invitation to you and to Mrs. Bush to visit Bahrain. It would give me great pleasure to welcome you to Bahrain and enable the Bahraini people to show their friendship and appreciation to you and to the American people.

Finally, Mr. President, it is my pleasure to extend to you and to the American people my very best wishes for continued peace and progress and prosperity. Thank you very much, sir.

Note: The President spoke at 10:13 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where Amir 'Isa Khalifa was accorded full military honors. Following the ceremony, President Bush and Amir 'Isa Khalifa met in the Oval Office and participated in a formal luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his remarks, President Bush referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. The GCC is the Gulf Cooperation Council.

George Bush, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Amir 'Isa Khalifa of Bahrain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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