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Bahrain in key talks with UK over reforms
By ROBERT SMITH – 20 November, 2012 – Gulf Daily News

BAHRAIN’s Foreign Minister will hold talks with his British counterpart today during a meeting that could pave the way for additional support with reforms.

Among topics on the agenda for the meeting between Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and his opposite number, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, is the relaunch of a joint “working group”.

British Ambassador to Bahrain, Iain Lindsay, is accompanying Shaikh Khalid on a visit to the UK and said this year had witnessed an increase in exchanges at the highest levels of government.


“We are discussing a range of bilateral regional issues and obviously the situation in Bahrain,” the ambassador told the GDN yesterday in an exclusive interview from London.

“That meeting (between Shaikh Khalid and Mr Hague) is likely to lead to the relaunch of a working group to take forward the UK’s assistance to Bahrain in a number of areas – some of the areas, for example, covered by the BICI (Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry) report focusing on reform.”

Details of the initiative are due to be announced after today’s meeting, which is part of an itinerary that will also see Mr Lindsay brief officials in the British government, the UK parliament and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the situation in Bahrain.

Shaikh Khalid and the UK’s Lord Astor, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defence, were guests of honour at the annual dinner of the Bahrain Society last night.

Meanwhile, Mr Lindsay is due to give a speech today to the Middle East Association – which promotes business and economic ties between Britain and the Middle East and North Africa – prior to a workshop it is holding on business opportunities in Bahrain.

“The main focus of the speech I’m giving is on business opportunities and my message is there are business opportunities in Bahrain,” said Mr Lindsay.

“We are seeing signs of British companies, new to the market, winning contracts in the last few months, which is very encouraging.

“There are a good number of significant infrastructure and business developments, such as the airport development, Bapco’s major capital works project relating to the refinery and Alba with its expansion plans.

“There are many British companies in Bahrain and the region, but it’s trying to attract new companies because you need that fresh infusion of blood and Bahrain does have competition aplenty in the region – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha just to name three.


“It’s important from my perspective that Bahrain remains competitive so it can actually attract new businesses.”

During the UK visit, Mr Lindsay will be spelling out to potential investors the situation on the ground, but said “sustainable stability” was key to Bahrain attracting companies looking to break into the region.

“People want stability, they want sustainable stability to make those investment decisions,” he explained.

“Companies coming into Bahrain will want some reassurance that the business climate, the general political and security climate, is actually getting better – not worse.

“There are plenty of places people can go to other than Bahrain and still do business in Bahrain.

“Bahrain’s GCC partners are also its competitors.” …more

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