Bahrain to let political groups lead talks

Jan. 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

MANAMA, Bahrain, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The government in Bahrain respects the opinions of other political groups in the country in the spirit of national reconciliation, the foreign minister said.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa called for a national dialogue last week, urging political groups and independent leaders to usher in national reforms.

Bahrain has been the frequent target of criticism for its crackdown on opposition supporters in the Sunni-led kingdom. Last year, the government revoked the citizenship of several opposition leaders and briefly placed tight restrictions on public demonstrations.

Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said all parties to the dialogue are respected and called on to sit down with open minds for negotiations, the official Bahrain News Agency reports. The state, he added, won't intervene in talks among various political groups.

Public prosecutors Monday started investigations into protests last week in Manama.

A member of opposition party al-Wefaq told the BBC that agreeing to dialogue doesn't mean an end to demonstrations against the ruling monarchy.

Dozens of people were killed during an uprising that coincided with the 2011 revolutions in the region. Manama was criticized for its crackdown but said it's committed to a series of reforms outlined by an independent inquiry probing the unrest.

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