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Obama Supports Efforts by Bahrain to Ease Crisis


Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin al-Khalifa (file photo)

Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin al-Khalifa (file photo)

U.S. President Barack Obama has reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to Bahrain, and says he supports efforts by the Gulf nation to ease its political crisis.

President Obama made his remarks after meeting Tuesday at the White House with Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin al-Khalifa.

The White House said the president welcomed the decision by Bahraini leaders to end a state of emergency, and to hold a national dialogue on reform set to begin next month.

Obama said the government and opposition must compromise to create a "just future for all Bahrainis."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also voiced support Tuesday for national dialogue in Bahrain. She spoke before a meeting with the crown prince, who said Bahrain is committed to political and economic reform.

President Obama has criticized Bahrain's crackdown on anti-government protesters in March that left 24 people dead. Following the crackdown, the Sunni-ruled nation arrested hundreds of mostly Shi'ite protesters and put dozens on trial in special courts.

Bahrain's leaders that month imposed an emergency law, which was lifted on June 1, and invited troops from neighboring Sunni-led states to help quell the protests.

Obama also said Tuesday it is critical for Bahrain's government to follow through on its promise to ensure that those responsible for human rights abuses are held accountable.

Bahrain has denied reports of human rights abuses.

On Tuesday, Bahraini Shi’ite clerics accused police of violating religious freedoms in connection with the halting of street festivals largely run by majority Shi’ites.

Bahrain is a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf and home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

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