Obama urges Bahrain king to show restraint, begin reforms


Washington: US President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, condemning violence against demonstrators and urging “meaningful reform”, the White House said.

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Obama Friday evening “reiterated his condemnation of the violence used against peaceful protesters, and strongly urged the government of Bahrain to show restraint, and to hold those responsible for the violence accountable”, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Several protesters were injured in Bahrain’s capital Manama Friday as the army used live ammunition near the central Lulu Square, a day after three people died and hundreds were injured in a fierce overnight crackdown on protesters who had camped out in the square.

Bahrain is a key ally of the US in the region and hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also urged restraint in a telephone call with Bahrain’s foreign minister Thursday.

Obama told Bahrain’s king that its 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”, according to the White House.

Bahrain is one of many Arab countries that have seen violence erupt amid protests that have swept the region in the wake of mass demonstrations in Egypt that brought an end last week to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Demonstrators in Iran and Libya have also clashed with authorities. Obama earlier Friday condemned the use of violence in all three countries and called for democratic reforms.

“The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” Obama said in a statement.