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Bush Meets with Bahrain's King Hamad - 2003-02-04

President Bush discussed Iraq Monday night at the White House with the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. President Bush welcomed King Hamad as "a great friend," and said he appreciates his strong support for efforts to bring peace to the Gulf region.

The president said he, too, would like to see a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction. But he said once again that he is willing to use force, if necessary, to disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"His majesty hopes, like me, that we are able to resolve this issue peacefully in Iraq," he said. "But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm, for the sake of peace and security for, not only the people in the region, but the people here in America, we will go in and disarm him."

Bahrain stood with the United States during the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq that reversed Baghdad's annexation of Kuwait. It remains the home base of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which monitors the international embargo on Iraq.

King Hamad said he traveled to Washington to show the president Bahrain's friendship is solid.

"I came all the way from Bahrain to here, really, to show this warm relationship, and to support the president in what he is doing for our stability and progress," he said.

Earlier Monday, King Hamad met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. His Monday evening dinner meeting with the president was originally set for Tuesday, when Mr. Bush plans to travel to Texas to attend a memorial service for the seven astronauts killed on the space shuttle Columbia.