Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa (right) with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in London. Prince Salman hailed the significance of the new British naval base in Bahrain. Image Credit: Courtesy: BNA

Manama: Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa has highlighted the significance of the new British naval base in Bahrain, saying it would strengthen cooperation in addressing threats across the region.

The base will also consolidate relations between Bahrain and the UK, Prince Salman said at a meeting with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in London.

The 200-year old ties between Bahrain and the United Kingdom have led to close cooperation across a wide range of areas and military and defence coordination ensure security and stability in the region, the crown prince said, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

Bahrain is committed to bolstering all levels of cooperation and coordination with the UK, particularly, in the military and defense spheres, he added.

At a meeting with Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Prince Salman “noted the Kingdom’s commitment to bolstering collaboration and coordination with its international allies, particularly in maintaining security and stability in the region.”

According to BNA, Prince Salman and Hammond “discussed broader security cooperation to deter and confront extremist groups in the region.”

The Crown Prince stressed the efforts of Bahrain and the UK to achieve shared regional and strategic goals, including fighting illicit funding of terrorists groups across the region and wider world.

“The meeting also presented an opportunity to discuss issues of security and stability in the region and wider world, including the commitment to the development of positive relations across the region, based on mutual respect for sovereignty and adherence to the principles of good neighbourliness and non-interference in internal affairs,” BNA said.

Britain in December said it would set up a permanent military base in the Middle East for the first time in more than four decades.

The new facility will also be a base for much larger ships than the minesweepers that have operated from the Mina Salmon port in Manama. The ships include destroyers and aircraft carriers.

The arrangement will put the long-standing presence of the Royal Navy in Bahrain on a permanent footing, Hammond said.

“Since the 1980s, the Royal Navy has carried out continuous patrols in the Gulf and has enjoyed the use of the facilities of Mina Salman Port from which to do so,” Hammond told the Manama Dialogue, a security conference held annually in December in the Bahraini capital.

“The expansion of our footprint that this arrangement will now allow means we will have the capability to send more and bigger ships and to sustain them and their crews in permanent facilities – a clear statement of our commitment to our sustained presence east of Suez, a reminder of our historic and close relations with Bahrain and another example of our growing partnership with Gulf allies to tackle the threats we face together,” he said.

The British naval base is adjacent to the much more substantial US naval facility, home to the fifth fleet.