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U.K., Bahrain discuss reforms

March 12, 2013 at 11:42 AM   |   Comments

MANAMA, Bahrain, March 12 (UPI) -- The British and Bahraini governments are examining pledges of reform made after violence in 2011, a British minister said from Manama.

British Foreign Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt and Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa met this week in Manama to discuss "a wide-range" of issues.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Bahrain's reform agenda was featured during the talks. Burt, in a statement, said reform would be reviewed "between now and the next meeting, expected within six months."

Dozens of protesters died during a government crackdown on demonstrations that grew out of the Arab Spring in 2011.

Bahrain announced steps toward a national dialogue session. Information Minister Samira Ibrahim bin Rajab said the government rejected efforts to sideline national officials during the talks. Violence, she added, had no place in political discussions.

"We strongly reject the incitement and direct negative interference of religious platforms and sectarian-tainted and rogue organizations which are operating outside the law," she was quoted by the official Bahrain News Agency as said.

Bahrain's commitment to reforms has been questioned by human rights organization who said abuses are ongoing. Several opposition leaders are behind bars and the government last year imposed a temporary ban on demonstrations, citing national security interest.

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