MANAMA, Bahrain – U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, completed a three-nation trip to the Middle East today in Bahrain where he continued to assess U.S. diplomatic and security relations in the Gulf region. After a visit with U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski, he met with Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa to discuss the state of U.S.-Bahrain relations and the Crown Prince’s ongoing efforts for political reform and stability amidst continued unrest.
“Bahrain is an important and longstanding U.S. ally, hosting the U.S. 5th Fleet, which plays a significant role in regional stability and protecting the global flow of energy. It is in our national interest to continue our strong military partnership, ensure the country remains stable and encourage nonviolent reformers on both sides to continue to work together to achieve a political solution to Bahrain’s own internal problems,” said Corker.
During his visit to Bahrain, Corker also met American service members deployed to Bahrain with the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, including Commander Vice Admiral John W. Miller and sailors and marines from Tennessee. He then met with Bahrain’s minister of justice, their chief of police and leaders of the nonviolent opposition group al-Wifaq. Finally, Corker met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who is in Bahrain for the Manama Dialogue, to discuss security challenges and the continued need for U.S. engagement in the region.
On Wednesday in Oman’s capital of Muskat, Corker met with Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah about negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Corker was the first member of Congress to meet Sheikh Khalid bin Hilal bin Nasser al Ma’wali, the first elected chairman of the Omani Consultative Council, which was granted expanded legislative and regulatory powers following popular uprisings associated with the Arab Spring in 2011.
“While I have expressed my concerns about the interim agreement with Iran and how they remain a constant, destabilizing force in other ways in the region, I appreciate Oman’s firm commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue and the role they have played in facilitating negotiations,” said Corker. “Chairman Khalid al Ma’wali brings intelligence and enthusiasm to his historic role on the Consultative Council. I support the council’s efforts to give a voice to the people of Oman and hope their members will visit the U.S. soon as they continue to navigate the challenges of representative government.”
Corker also visited with private sector executives from Oman’s oil and gas industry and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy studying Arabic in Oman.
On Monday and Tuesday, Corker was in Saudi Arabia where he heard concerns about the worsening conflict in Syria as well as Iran’s role in the region.
Photos from Oman and Bahrain are attached, and suggested captions are below. High resolution images are available upon request.
December 4, 2013 - Corker talks with Sheikh Khalid bin Hilal bin Nasser al Ma’wali, first elected chairman of the Omani Consultative Council. They discussed the future of political reform and representation in Oman, as well as long-term plans to diversify Oman’s economy and put the country’s budget on a more sustainable path.
December 4, 2013 - Corker discusses the value of public service and the importance of international study and experience with U.S. Naval Academy students studying Arabic in Oman.
December 5, 2013 - Corker meets with Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa in Bahrain.
December 5, 2013 – Corker meets with Tennessee sailors and marines deployed to Bahrain with the U.S. Fifth Fleet.