US Ambassador Steven Bondy has stressed America’s close relations with Bahrain as among the oldest and closest in the region.

In an interview with Bahrain News Agency, his first since he took up his post in the kingdom, Ambassador Bondy said that the two countries are endeavouring to expand their partnership across all areas based on their shared values, friendship and common commitment to Bahrain’s continued progress and success.

“We maintain close partnerships with the government of Bahrain on the full range of bilateral issues, from education and the arts to trade, investment, and security, with an emphasis on strengthening people-to-people ties,” he said.

The ambassador stressed the significance of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – one of only two in the Gulf region – in strengthening the bilateral trade and investment relationship.“Since coming into force in 2006, two-way trade in merchandise and services has more than tripled, from $782 million in 2005 to nearly $3 billion in 2018. Even during the disruption of the pandemic-induced economic downturn, trade exceeded $2bn in 2021, up from $1.5bn in 2020,” he said.

“We believe in expanding commercial relations with Bahrain as a US government priority and we are here to support businesses that are interested in doing that.”The ambassador, who throughout his career has focused on the countries and issues of the broader Middle East region, emphasised that “the US is and will continue to be Bahrain’s closest partner for advanced defence systems and equipment.”

“Such systems greatly improve and enhance regional security, as do the high pace of bilateral and multilateral military exercises and training events. The United States and Bahrain both benefit from closer operational co-ordination.”The US looks forward to the initiation of direct flights connecting the two countries, he added.

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