India and Bahrain said on Wednesday they will strengthen their Covid-19-related cooperation and enhance their ties in key areas such as defence, maritime security, space technology and trade and investment.
These matters figured in visiting external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s meetings with Bahrain’s top leadership. The minister is currently on a three-nation trip to the extended neighbourhood that will also take him to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Seychelles.
“Both sides affirmed to further strengthen their Covid-related cooperation. They also expressed satisfaction on operationalisation of [an] air bubble arrangement between the two countries,” said a statement from the external affairs ministry.
Jaishankar and his Bahrain counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani discussed bilateral, regional and global issues, including cooperation in dealing with post-Covid-19 challenges.
“They agreed to further strengthen the historic India-Bahrain ties, including in areas of defence and maritime security, space technology, trade and investment, infrastructure, IT, fintech, health, hydrocarbon and renewable energy,” the statement said.
Jaishankar thanked the leadership of Bahrain for hosting more than 300,000 Indians and “taking exceptional care of the community during the Covid-19 pandemic”. Bahrain’s leadership appreciated the Indian community’s contribution to development and the aid provided by India during the pandemic, including medicines, medical equipment and medical professionals.
Besides the foreign minister, Jaishankar met Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and deputy prime minister Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa. He conveyed the Indian government’s condolences on the death of Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the former prime minister, and recalled his contributions in strengthening bilateral relations and for the welfare of the Indian community in Bahrain.
Jaishankar also interacted with leaders of the Indian community in virtual mode. He visited the 200-year-old Shreenathji temple in Manama. The temple and the “Little India” around it stand testimony to the friendship between the two sides.