MANAMA: The US Navy has denied reports that it is planning to pull its regional headquarters out of Bahrain.
Officials strongly dismissed speculation that the Fifth Fleet base in Juffair could be relocated to another neighbouring country due to fears about continued unrest.
“The speculation in the London Times article about Fifth Fleet leaving Bahrain is false,” said US Navy Fifth Fleet public affairs officer Commander Amy Derrick-Frost.
“The US Navy has a long-standing relationship of more than 60 years with Bahrain and they are a vital member of our Combined Maritime Forces, supporting regional maritime security and stability.
“US Fifth Fleet continues to support ongoing operations in the region and is committed to working with our regional partners to maintain security and stability in this area of operations.”
Newspaper reports around the world quoted political sources in Washington as saying there had been talk of moving the operation elsewhere amid fears of instability in the Gulf.
Qatar and the UAE were mentioned as possible alternatives.
The news also comes less than two weeks after National Unity Assembly president Dr Abdullatif Al Mahmood warned Bahrain against caving in to “US pressure” concerning the pace of its reforms.
In a sermon during Friday prayers, he suggested that the location of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain should not be used as a bargaining tool.
US Embassy officials would not comment and referred all queries about the issue to the US Navy Fifth Fleet.