Clinton: Bahrain, Gulf allies on wrong track

AFP , Wednesday 16 Mar 2011

The US secretary of state takes distance from Gulf allies as they move with military force to quell protests in Bahrain for greater democratic rights

Bahrain and its allies who have sent troops to help it put down anti-government demonstrations are on the wrong track, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a television interview on Wednesday.

Bahraini forces backed by helicopters launched a crackdown on protesters on Wednesday, imposing a curfew and clearing hundreds from a camp that had become the symbol of an uprising by the Shia Muslim majority.

"We find what's happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators," Clinton told CBS in an interview, urging Bahrain to negotiate a political agreement with demonstrators.

"We have also made that very clear to our Gulf partners who are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council, four of whose members have sent troops to support the Bahraini government. They are on the wrong track," Clinton said.

Hospital sources said three policemen and three protesters were killed in the assault that began a day after Bahrain declared martial law to quell unrest that has sucked in troops from neighbour Saudi Arabia.

"We have made it very clear to the Bahraini government at the highest levels that we expect them to exercise restraint, we would remind them of their humanitarian obligation to keep medical facilities open and to facilitate the treatment of the injured, and to get back to the negotiating table," she said.


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