Demonstrators chant and wave Bahraini flags near the Pearl Monument on a main square in Manama, Bahrain (Photo: AP)
The foreign ministers of Bahrain and Iran met in New York late Monday for their first talks since the two countries withdrew their ambassadors in a row over the crushing of Shiite-led protests in Manama, Iran said on Tuesday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told his Bahraini counterpart that the Sunni minority government should open a dialogue with the Gulf kingdom's Shiite majority, his ministry quoted him as saying.
Iran's "principles towards the developments in the region is clear and Iran considers tolerance and dialogue between Bahraini people and the government to be the solution to Bahrain's problem," Salehi was quoted as saying.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa replied that he regretted the absence of ambassadors from the two capitals and "expressed willingness for both nations to have ambassadors in order to exchange views and have direct contacts," the Iranian foreign ministry said.
Bahrain recalled its ambassador from Tehran in protest at Iranian criticism of the March crackdown on the month-long protests, which was carried out with the help of a Saudi-led military intervention force.
Iran retaliated by withdrawing its ambassador from Manama.
The row sparked a sharp deterioration in relations between Shiite Iran and the Sunni-ruled Gulf states, which have repeatedly accused Tehran of using the region's Shiite communities to meddle in their affairs.