Foreign relations of Bahrain

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Politics and government of

Bahrain plays a modest, moderating role in regional politics and adheres to the views of the Arab League on Middle East peace and Palestinian rights. Since achieving independence in 1971, Bahrain has maintained friendly relations with most of its neighbours and with the world community. It generally pursues a policy of close consultation with neighboring states and works to narrow areas of disagreement.

Bahrain is a member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), established on May 26, 1981 with five other Persian Gulf states. The country has fully complied with steps taken by the GCC to coordinate economic development and defense and security planning. In December 1994, it concurred with the GCC decision to drop secondary and tertiary boycotts against Israel. In many instances, it has established special bilateral trade agreements.

The country’s foreign minister is Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, a career diplomat. Educated in the United States, as a student Sheikh Khaled was a member of US President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 presidential campaign team. His deputy is Dr Nazar Al Baharna, a politician and business leader, who was appointed in 2006 following the victory of the biggest Shia party Al Wefaq in that year's parliamentary elections. Al Baharna was formerly a leading member of Al Wefaq.[citation needed]

In June 2006, Bahrain was elected head of the United Nations General Assembly, and used the honour to appoint Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa as the Assembly's president, making her the first Middle East woman and only the third woman in history to take over the post. Sheikha Haya is a leading Bahraini lawyer and women's rights advocate who will take over the post at a time of change for the world body. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said of her, "I met her yesterday and I found her quite impressive. All the member states are determined to work with her and to support her, and I think she's going to bring a new dimension to the work here."[1] The move follows a series of appointments of women to high profile positions in the Kingdom (see Women's political rights in Bahrain for further details).

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