|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 12, 2008
President Bush Arrives in Bahrain
Middle East Trip
3:55 P.M. (Local)
THE PRESIDENT: Your Majesty, thank you very much for bestowing upon me the award. I'm most honored. I accept it on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I also thank you and the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister for your gracious hospitality. I am really honored to be the first U.S. sitting President to have visited your country. Perhaps I should say, it's about time.
The American people have a long friendship with the people of Bahrain. For decades, Bahrain has welcomed the United States Navy -- and is now home to our Fifth Fleet. Two years ago, I was pleased to sign legislation that strengthened our friendship and our relationship with the free trade agreement with Bahrain -- it's America's first such agreement with any nation in the Gulf. This agreement is helping to pave way to freer and fairer trade between our countries -- so we can create jobs and opportunity and hope in both our lands.
Our two nations share a common vision for the future of the Middle East. Through our alliance, we share the burdens and risks of maintaining security, as well as defending freedom throughout the region. We also believe in the power of democratic reform. Your Majesty, I appreciate the fact that you're on the forefront of providing hope for people through democracy. Your nation has held two free elections since 2000 -- and in 2006, your people elected a woman to your parliament. Bahrain's reforms are making your nation stronger. You're showing strong leadership, and you're showing the way forward for other nations.
Your Majesty, I look forward to our meetings later today. I look forward to discussing how we can continue to advance peace in the Middle East. I look forward to sharing with you my experiences that I had in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. I look forward to talking about how we can continue to ensure security in the Gulf. Together we will continue to strengthen our friendship and our cooperation, and I'm proud to be with you, sir. (Applause.)
END 3:38 P.M. (Local)