Bahrain FM stresses significance of quiet diplomacy

November 30, 2010

Three days before hosting the US secretary of state, at the centre of a deep controversy over leaked diplomatic reports, Bahrain’s foreign minister has stressed the importance of quiet diplomacy.

“Quiet diplomacy is what we need,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said. “Documents show up later in accordance with laws of secrecy in different countries,” he wrote, tweeting his view on the global publication of US accounts of private meetings with leaders and senior officials.

Bahrain on Friday will host the Manama Dialogue, an annual security conference that brings together political and defence leaders from more than 25 countries.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her first visit to Bahrain, will deliver the opening speech of the December 3-5 high profile meeting to be attended by the foreign ministers of several countries, including Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki.

Clinton is expected to refer either in her speech on Friday evening or in her press conference to the leaked diplomatic messages by US diplomats reporting on private conversations with country leaders or giving a candid assessment of them.

However, Shaikh Khalid, a veteran diplomat who served Bahrain in the US and Britain, has been insisting since the first leaked cables were posted on the internet on the importance of quiet and private communications. “Diplomacy is not about lying. It’s about serving your country’s interests and building bridges publicly and quietly,” he wrote.

The minister warned that “WikiLeaks is weakening diplomacy in general and US diplomacy in particular. Not good for global stability. We need more diplomacy.”

In another instance, Shaikh Khalid challenged skeptics to address serious issues without confidential work.

“Anyone believing that one can handle the Korea situation without also confidential diplomacy? Anyone? Anywhere?,” he wrote.

Answering a question on whether some people should be “scared” over the leaks, the foreign minister wrote: “Scared of what:)?! These are cables from diplomats that include their understanding of various matters.”

On a more personal level, he wrote “but tell me who doesn’t have anything to hide? Secrecy is part of everyone’s work and life.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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