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US disappointed with Bahrain-Russia investment deal

The United States is disappointed with US ally Bahrain's decision to sign an agreement to cooperate on investment with Russia at a time when American and European governments impose sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, a US State Department official said Wednesday.

"With Russia continuing its efforts to destabilise Ukraine, this isn't the time for any country to conduct business as usual [with Moscow]," the official said.

He pointed out that the US has raised its concerns with the Bahraini government.

Russia's Direct Investment Fund issued a statement on Tuesday saying it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Bahrain's Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund to identify investment opportunities between the two countries.

Mumtalakat is the smallest wealth fund in the Gulf and possessed assets valued at $7.1 billion in September.

The Russian government established the Direct Investment Fund worth $10 billion to invest in stocks, mainly in Russia.

Bahrain's state news agency BNA said the agreement was signed at the end of Bahraini Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa's visit to Moscow earlier this week.

Bahrain is a key ally to the US and the decision indicates that Western sanctions may not discourage other countries from expanding their economic ties with Russia.

BNA said Bahrain will facilitate visa procedures for Russian citizens travelling to the Kingdom for business while its national carrier, Gulf Air, will start direct flights between Moscow and Manama.

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