Bahrain welcomes Obama's Mideast speech

May 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM
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MANAMA, Bahrain, May 20 (UPI) -- Bahrain welcomed a Middle East policy speech delivered by the U.S. president as an affirmation of Manama's democratic vision, the government said.

Bahrain is condemned by human-rights organizations for a bloody crackdown against a Shiite uprising against the country's ruling Sunni minority. The country maintains it is addressing international concerns, however.

U.S. President Barack Obama in a Middle East policy speech Thursday maintained Bahrain was a longstanding partner for Washington.

"The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can't have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail," he cautioned.

The Bahraini government in a statement issued through the official Bahrain News Agency said it welcomed the speech as it "included visions and principles that agree with democratic strategy adopted by Bahrain under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa."

The statement, however, said there were "false accusations" made against the government based on "wrong information."

"All procedures it indicated had always been and will continue within the constitutional and legal framework and in accordance with international standards with regards to the securing and preservation of human rights," the statement continued.

In March U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned Bahrain for its "shocking and illegal conduct."

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