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Bush Hosts Bahraini King at White House

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President Bush met at the White House with the King of Bahrain to discuss Mideast security and the war in Iraq.  VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush thanked the King of Bahrain for sending an ambassador back to Baghdad after the kingdom's top diplomat there was wounded in an apparent kidnapping attempt three years ago.

"It is a very strong move that indicates a willingness to lead as well as a willingness to send a signal that a young democracy like Iraq is beginning to make progress, that it is important for the neighborhood to recognize that progress," he said.

The two leaders spoke to reporters before lunch in the White House residence.  King Hamad said security is most important to regional development and prosperity.

"Iraq is an Arab state.  Iraq is a founder of the Arab League.  So it deserves all of the support it can get from other brother Arabs," he said.

King Hamad said Bahrain and the United States share a common goal of fighting terrorism and extremism.

The two men discussed joint security operations in the region.

The king met Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss increasing joint security exercises in the Persian Gulf.  Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Also Monday the two countries signed an agreement pledging civilian atomic-energy cooperation.  The State Department said Bahrain agreed to forgo sensitive fuel-cycle technologies and to rely on world markets for nuclear fuel.

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