WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- Washington views Bahrain as a long-standing partner, though the country's stability depends on it upholding universal rights, the White House said.
Bahrain is under scrutiny for its response to a Shiite uprising against the country's ruling Sunni minority.
Opposition leaders accuse the ruling Sunni minority of cracking down on healthcare workers and hospital patients to downplay the severity of the violence.
Bahrain is host to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Bahrain's King Hamid bin Isa al-Khalifa to discuss the turmoil in the country.
"The president said that the United States, as a long-standing partner of Bahrain, believes that Bahrain's stability depends upon respect for the universal rights of the people of Bahrain and a process of meaningful reform that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis," a statement from the White House read.
Bahrain last week faced renewed criticism over a decision to call for the death penalty for four student activists the government blames for the killing of two policemen in March.
"We support Bahrain's right to bring to justice those responsible for the death of two policemen," a statement from the British government read. "But it is our long-standing policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances."