Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Bahrain Crown Prince and chairman of the Economic Development Council, denied that his country is in the process of establishing any diplomatic relations with the state of Israel. He affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat Bahrain”s commitment to the resolutions of the Arab Summit that are based on the initiative of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz making the restoration of the occupied Arab territories a condition for diplomatic normalization.
Israeli and Western media reports had claimed that there were contacts between Bahrain and Israel that would lead to establishment of diplomatic relations between Manama and Tel Aviv. This followed Bahrain”s announcement that it was lifting the ban on the entry of Israeli goods into the country, this being in line with the international agreements that Bahrain lately concluded and led by its joining of the World Trade Organization and the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
The Bahrain Crown Prince, who is responsible for the file of upgrading the efficiency of his country”s economy, expected the US Congress to ratify the Free Trade Agreement with his country "before the end of the current year 2005". He said he believed that his country had undertaken all the official procedures required under the Agreement "and it remains for the US side to do the same".
Sheikh Salman said that Bahrain believed in the necessity of linking its economy to the major global economies "taking into consideration that the economy of a small country must be linked to major economies that benefit it". He cited as proof the example of many small countries such as Singapore and Luxembourg that applied this strategy and managed to keep their economies in step with the global economies and benefit from them. While Sheikh Salman stressed the importance of economic cooperation among the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and underscored its necessity, he affirmed at the same time that this Gulf cooperation alone "is not enough".