Britain has announced it plans to open a permanent military base in Bahrain to increase security cooperation in the Middle Eastern region. The move comes amid threats posed by militant "Islamic State" group.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Saturday the security agreement with the Middle Eastern island kingdom would be signed on Sunday, which would allow the UK to open its first military base in the region since the early 1970s.
The deal was reached on Saturday at an international security conference held in Bahrain's capital Manama. The British Foreign Office confirmed in a statement that Britain would enhance onshore facilities at Bahrain's Mina Salman Port, where it currently uses US facilities.
"This new base is a permanent expansion of the Royal Navy's footprint and will enable Britain to send more and larger ships to reinforce stability in the Gulf," said Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, adding that his country "will now be based again in the Gulf for the long term."
Britain withdrew from the region in 1971 as part of its plan to withdraw from "East of Suez."
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa said the deal "reaffirms our joint determination to maintain regional security and stability in the face of challenging circumstances."
"Bahrain looks forward to the early implementation of today's arrangement, and to continuing to work with the UK and other partners to address threats to regional security," he added.
The project, which will cost the UK approximately 15 million pounds (23 million dollars, 19 million euros), is expected to be completed in the next two years.
The Middle Eastern nations, including Bahrain, and the West have found a common enemy in the form of the Sunni militant group "Islamic State" (IS), which has taken over vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Manama is part of the US-led international coalition carrying out airstrikes against IS.
shs/rc (AFP, dpa)