US hails `positive steps` by Bahrain monarchy

The United States welcomed peacemaking moves by Bahrain`s monarchy, as tens of thousands of protesters descended on the heart of the capital Manama in a massive anti-regime rally.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 10:15 AM IST

Washington: The United States welcomed
peacemaking moves by Bahrain`s monarchy, as tens of thousands
of protesters descended on the heart of the capital Manama in
a massive anti-regime rally.

The US State Department said yesterday that it
commended steps taken by King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman
bin Hamad in restoring calm and allowing peaceful
demonstrations to take place.

"We view recent announcements to launch a national
dialogue and the release of political prisoners as positive
steps towards addressing the concerns of Bahraini citizens,"
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

King Hamad has agreed to one of the opposition`s
demands, ordering the release of political prisoners and the
end of trials against others.

Security forces in Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet
headquarters, were dispatched to Manama`s Pearl Square last
Thursday in a raid that left four people dead. Troops were
later pulled back.

The ruling Sunni Khalifa dynasty governs a restive
Shiite majority near Shiite but non-Arab Iran.

It is adjacent to an oil-producing province in
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia where Shiites have also complained of
unfair leadership.

Supporters of Bahrain`s Shiite-led opposition earlier
marched to Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-regime
demonstrations that have gripped the Gulf state since February
14. They called for the government`s downfall.

Yesterday`s protest came a day after pro-government
Sunnis rallied at a Manama mosque, pledging loyalty to the
Khalifa family, and calling on protesters to answer an
invitation for dialogue.

PTI