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Bahrain to focus on security

Bahrain's foreign minister said that his country would focus on restoring security and pushing ahead with political consultations

AFP , Tuesday 22 Mar 2011
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Bahrain's foreign minister said on Tuesday that the tiny Gulf kingdom would focus on restoring security and pushing ahead with political consultations after Gulf troops quashed one month of protests.

"The situation has now evolved towards calm and we will continue on this path," Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa told a news conference after talks with Arab League chief Amr Mussa in Cairo.

"There is no doubt that continued political consultations are the way forward," he added.

He said the kingdom would concentrate on "restoring security, stability and unity between citizens after much polarisation in recent days."

Arab League ambassadors meeting in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday said Bahrain's use of Gulf troops was "legitimate" based on agreements between members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Last month, Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman offered to start an open dialogue over issues that instigated the month-long protest in central Manama.

But the Shiite-led opposition says it refuses to be coerced into talks, demanding a "correct" environment for negotiations aimed at solving political issues in the Gulf state ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family.

Protests were crushed by security forces last week after the royal family called in Gulf troops, mostly from Saudi Arabia, when the demonstrations escalated into clashes that paralysed the capital.

Bahrain's foreign minister said the troops were called in to "protect key installations against any external threat to the kingdom."

The wealthy Arab oil states in the Gulf are united in their fear of any expanding influence from Shiite-majority Iran.

Mussa said the position of Arab countries was "very clearly to maintain stability in Bahrain and preserve its Arab identity."

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