The Russian president and King Hamad held talks focusing on trade, Gaza, and relations with Iran Vladimir Putin meets with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2024 © AFP / Yuri Kochetkov

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa agreed on Thursday to step up their trade relations and work together to resolve the crisis in the Middle East.

King Hamad arrived in Moscow on Thursday for a two-day working visit to the Russian capital. After a two-hour conversation, Putin and the King signed documents regarding cooperation in the pharmaceutical and medical industry, transport and transit, as well as cultural exchange and environmental memoranda, according to a readout provided by the Kremlin.

“Unfortunately, trade between Russia and Bahrain is at an early stage, but the trends are positive,” Putin told Hamad. “However, the situation with investment is better: there are about 30 large projects underway, with a total worth of around $500 million.”

The king praised Putin for his “wise policy” and acknowledged “Russia’s role in the fair resolution of Arab issues.” Hamad, who currently holds the chairmanship of the Arab League, said that Bahrain aims to hold an international conference aimed at resolving the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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“Russia will be the first country I will turn to for support on this initiative because Russia plays an important role, can promote it, and has great authority worldwide,” the king declared.

King Hamad also said that he is looking forward to restoring diplomatic relations with Iran, a key Russian partner in the Middle East. Bahrain severed relations with Iran in 2016, following the lead of Saudi Arabia. Tensions between Tehran and Manama already ran high due to Bahrain’s hosting of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Bahrain has long accused the Iranians of inciting its Shi’te population against the monarchy.

However, Hamad told Putin that these problems “have been almost entirely resolved,” and that “there is no reason to postpone the normalisation and enhancement of relations.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that Hamad accepted an invitation from Putin to attend the BRICS summit in Kazan this October. Ushakov also said that Putin presented the King with an Aurus limousine, a version of which is used as the Russian president’s official state car. (RT)