US to resume arms sales to Bahrain

2012-05-12 18:28
Washington - The United States intends to resume some arms sales to Bahrain despite its concerns about the government's human rights abuses, US officials said on Friday.

"We have made the decision to release additional items to Bahrain mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious unresolved human rights issues that the government of Bahrain needs to address," US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

She cited "excessive use of force and tear gas by police" and the use of violence by protestors as Washington's main concerns.

Nuland said Washington would continue to hold back on sales of tube-launched missiles and Humvee vehicles, among other items.

"The items that we are releasing are not used for crowd control," Nuland said.

The materiel will include a frigate, harbour security boats for the Coast Guard and an upgrade for Bahrain's existing turbo fan engines used in F-16 fighter jets, a senior administration official said.

Bahrain is an important security ally for Washington in the Gulf, and is a key partner in facing down Iran.

The island country's majority Shi'ites have been taking to the streets since early last year, demanding more rights from the Sunni royal family. The government has repressed the protests and prosecuted medical and hospital workers who have taken care of the injured.

Nuland conceded that Bahrain "is becoming increasingly polarised and much work remains to be done".

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