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Bahrain will work with who ‘Americans choose as the next US president’

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said Iran needs to take action before meaningful dialogue

Ismaeel Naar

Published: Updated:

In an interview with Al Arabiya English, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa spoke of Bahrain's assessment regarding the recent remarks made during the US Republican primary elections saying that Bahrain, and the GCC, will work with whoever the American people chooses their next president to be.

The foreign minister, who is also one of the few diplomats to gather a following on social media, is famous in the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain for his use of Twitter.

He spoke to Al Arabiya English on what got him started on the micro-blogging website and why diplomats should 'change with the times' in engaging with citizens.

Al Arabiya English: Onto the question of the United States elections. Some analysts say the current US foreign policy places the Gulf in an “impossible situation” with the Americans; Should Clinton win, the question begs whether her policies will match those with Obama and his doctrine comments. And should a Republican candidate win, while many promising to “shred the Iran nuclear deal on their first day of office” be better for the Gulf given their widely anti-Muslim rhetoric these days?

Bahrain’s assessment is that it would like to see America go through this process of election year and we will have a new president that we will look forward to working with, whoever the American people choose.

But if you will ask me not as a diplomat but as a person who lived in America, worked in American campaigns – I worked for Mr. Jimmy Carter in 1980 – I’ve never seen what I’m seeing today. What we’re seeing in American presidential campaign today on TV is unprecedented. So let’s wait and see until November to see the outcome.

Al Arabiya English: Finally, you are one of a few Arab diplomats who are active on Twitter, amassing more than 250,000 followers in the process. Is this a new form of “high-tech diplomacy”?

In started in 2009, I was talking to the Minister of External Affairs in India Mr. Shashi Tharoor, who was very well known on Twitter then, and he told me about Twitter and I said that it sounded interesting. Twitter today was different than Twitter in 2009. There were only 1,500 Tweeters in Bahrain back then and now there are how many thousands.

It’s not really about high-tech diplomacy but more about moving along when the world develops in its technologies and its tools in getting the world to the people. So in order for us not to be distant from the masses of the people and to get the message clear to them, you’ll have to use the tools that they use.

This is why we’ve been active on Twitter. This is why politicians are reaching out otherwise no one would be listening.

In a seperate interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa also about spoke of Iran’s initiative to dialogue with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) but cautioned that Iran had to change its foreign policy behavior with the region before any meaningful talks can take place. Al Khalifa spoke to "Point of Order", a live, weekly socio-political hard-talk show. Its guests have included figures such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy and the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region Masoud Barzani. The show, presented by Hasan Muawad, is known for its bold questions and sometimes controversial guests and discussions.