Bahrain orders US diplomat to leave

2014-07-07 21:23

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Manama - Bahrain ordered a top US diplomat to leave the country on Monday after he met with a leading Shi'ite opposition group.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski is not welcome in Bahrain. It said he intervened in the country's domestic affairs by holding meetings with some groups at the expense of others.

Bahrain, a tiny island nation that is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet, has been roiled by near-daily protests by Shi'ites seeking greater political rights and inspired by the Arab Spring wave of revolutions since early 2011.

The Bahrain government moved to crush the uprising, which threatened to spill into neighbouring Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries with Shi'ite populations, with the help of regional Gulf Arab forces.

Malinowski was ordered to leave after meeting with Bahrain's Shi'ite opposition group, Al Wifaq. He arrived in the country on Sunday and had been scheduled to stay for three days.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday that Malinowski is still in Bahrain.

She said Malinowski was on a visit to reaffirm and strengthen bilateral ties and support King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's reform and reconciliation efforts, particularly in light of events elsewhere in the region.

"Our team is in close touch on the ground with the government to figure out what happened here," Psaki said. "Our officials are in close touch with Bahrain government officials on the ground and we'll see what transpires over the next several hours."

- AP

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