Kerry presses Bahrain on reforms

June 7, 2013 at 11:53 AM

WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- All members of society in Bahrain should work together to address their grievances peacefully for the sake of prosperity, U.S. Secretary State John Kerry said.

Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa arrived in Washington this week to meet with Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden.

The State Department said Kerry emphasized the importance of the strategic partnership with Bahrain, which is host to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The U.S. government was criticized for taking a soft stance on Bahrain following the monarchy's crackdown on a Shiite-led uprising in 2011. The government of Bahrain faced criticism for not taking its own commitments to reform seriously.

The State Department said Kerry stressed "all sides must reject violence and pursue actions that will contribute to Bahrain's future growth and prosperity."

The official Bahrain News Agency reported Friday the prince told Biden the Sunni-led monarchy placed national dialogue at the center of political reform initiatives. Violence has no place in society, he was quoted by BNA as saying.

Human Rights Watch reported last month it had evidence that Bahraini authorities abused human rights defenders arrested for protesting during the Formula 1 race in April.

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