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Biden backs dialogue in Bahrain

Biden backs dialogue in Bahrain
Thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrate against the king dem in Manama's Riffa Area near the royal palace on March 11, 2011. Bahraini anti-riot police clashed with opposition protesters on the outskirts of Riffa after pro-government supporters were able to pass through police lines and attack the opposition march. Nearly 800 people were injured according to the health ministry, mainly due to tear-gas inhalation. UPI/Isa Ebrahim | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- The United States is a key partner with Bahrain, the U.S. vice president said while stressing a need for national dialogue and support for universal rights.

Bahrain is facing international criticism for its response to a Shiite uprising in the country.

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Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, criticized the Bahraini government for misrepresenting her statements in the state-run media. She denied saying she had seen reports that some reporting on Bahrain was untrue.

Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain, met in Washington with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

A White House statement said Biden "reaffirmed the United States' commitment to our longstanding partnership with Bahrain, to supporting a national dialogue that addresses the aspirations of all Bahrainis, and to ensuring that universal rights are respected and those responsible for abusing them are held accountable."

The crown prince in talks this week with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the Shiite uprising as "a great test but also a great opportunity to drive the nation forward."

Bahrain has agreed to accept a U.N. human rights mission to the country but didn't specify a date.

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Bahrain is a key ally to the United States, hosting the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

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