Manama: Bahrain has been calling for the admission of Egypt into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), its foreign minister has said.
"The issue has been raised several times and Bahrain has lately supported it strongly, especially after Jordan and Morocco said they wanted to join," Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said.
"Egypt should top the names of the countries keen on joining the GCC," the minister said, quoted by Egyptian daily Al Yaum Sabea.
In May, two weeks ahead of its 30th anniversary, the six-nation regional grouping said that it welcomed membership requests by the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco to join the council.
The name of Egypt was often put forth, mainly by the media, as a potential member of the alliance. Shaikh Khalid said that the ongoing visit by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to Cairo reflected Bahrain's full support to the Egyptians and to their revolution.
King Hamad on Monday held talks with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussain Tantawi, Egypt's military ruler, on bilateral relations, regional developments and issues of mutual interest, official news said.
According to Shaikh Khalid, Bahrainis will receive training in some of Egypt's military schools. "The training agreements were strong in the 1970s, but somewhat became weaker in the period preceding the revolution in Egypt. Now, there are new agreements that will boost Bahrainis' training in Egypt," he said.
On relations with Iran, the foreign minister said that the door was open and that Bahrain did not mind holding a dialogue with Iran "provided that Tehran took into consideration Manama's interests and stopped interfering in Bahrain's domestic affairs."
He said that the Iranian interference has sparked sectarian feuding within Bahrain. "The Iranian interference in the domestic affairs of other Arab countries was not welcome either and Bahrain has rejected it," he said, quoted by the daily.
Shaikh Khalid said that the Bahrain Independent Commission for Inquiry, set up by King Hamad in June to look into the incidents that hit the country in February and March and their consequences, was the only way to know what really happened.
The commission is expected to hand it its report on November 23 after it extended an earlier deadline of October 30. "This is to ensure that every testimony, complaint, and item of evidence is considered and examined, which will enable the Commission to prepare a final report that establishes the facts about what occurred in Bahrain during February and March 2011," the commission said.
"All physical documents - statements and complaints submitted by Bahraini citizens and foreign residents - would be destroyed at the time of the submission of the final report to protect the confidentiality, security and privacy of all complainants and their testimonies."
According to Shaikh Khalid, "Bahrain is treading the right path now through opening the door to dialogue with all people and establishing a fact-finding commission."