Bahraini King Meets With Medvedev

ReutersPresident Dmitry Medvedev and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah entering a Kremlin hall for talks Tuesday.
President Dmitry Medvedev and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa agreed to cooperate on nuclear energy and promote economic ties after a meeting between the two leaders at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

After the meeting, Medvedev said there were "inexhaustible resources for building up" relations between the two countries and pointed to the nuclear energy and aluminum sectors as prime areas for cooperation, Interfax reported.

The Bahraini delegation said they supported Russia's initiative to host a Middle East peace conference during the first half of next year.

"We are hoping that this conference will be very useful in putting an end to the crisis in the Middle East," said the Bahraini ambassador, Abdulhameed Hasan, in a telephone interview.

At an earlier event on Tuesday, Bahraini businessmen and government officials praised Russian technological experience and described investment opportunities at home.

"We need, for example, help with trains, factories and heavy industry," said Sharif Mohamed Ahmadi, chairman of the industrial committee of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Why not get the benefit of Russian experience to help Bahrain?"

Russian officials, meanwhile, offered to help Bahrain develop its nuclear energy capabilities.

"We can help build small-capacity nuclear power plants which will enable the kingdom to more accurately regulate its thermal balance," said Sergei Kiriyenko, head of state atomic agency Rosatom, Interfax reported.

Representatives of Vneshekonombank and the Bahrain Development Bank signed a memorandum of understanding on increasing joint investment programs and trade and supporting small and medium-sized businesses.

Presenters from both countries described their nations as ripe for investment.

The Bahrain side highlighted a 2006 free-trade agreement between Bahrain and the United States, which was the first country to do business in the free-trade zone.

"Any company interested in doing business in the United States would do well to set up in Bahrain," said Hasan Fakhro, Bahrain's minister of industry and commerce.

Russian participants similarly said that this country could use foreign investment inflow.

"In terms of projects in the real sector, our economy is still growing," said Pyotr Fradkov, deputy chairman of Vneshekonombank. "We need to find any type of investment inflow from any region of the world."

Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, chairman of Ithmaar Bank, said he has been interested in setting up an Islamic bank in Moscow for many years but has found it difficult to get a license. With the onset of the financial crisis, he said, Islamic banking standards have become more appealing.

"We do not go into speculation," said Abdulla-Janahi. "We did not have the Lehman Brothers paper, so we did not get affected there."

He said his bank had begun working with the International Bank of Azerbaijan to acquire real estate in Moscow.