Britain urges reform in talks with Bahrain king

12th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Bahrain's King Hamad Monday to stick to his pledges of reform after a probe found police used excessive force against demonstrators, Downing Street said.

The Gulf state's monarch held "useful" talks with Cameron when he visited the British premier at his official residence in London, a spokeswoman for Downing Street said in a statement.

The talks "focused on the king's plans to implement reforms in the country, following on from the protests earlier this year and the report from the Independent Commission of Inquiry," the spokeswoman said.

"The prime minister emphasised the importance of strengthening respect for human rights in Bahrain.

"He urged the king to deliver swiftly on the commitments he has made to implement the recommendations from the inquiry and to drive forward reform and reconciliation in the country, engaging with the opposition as part of that process."

King Hamad "welcomed the prime minister's offer of expertise to help with the reform process in Bahrain, particularly to improve the judicial system there", the spokeswoman said.

They also discussed boosting trade cooperation, she said.

A special independent commission said last month that the death toll from violence in Bahrain had reached 35, and that police had used "excessive force" and tortured detainees, prompting the king to vow reforms.

Britain has close trade and defence links to Bahrain but amid pressure from rights groups London revoked licences for the export of some security equipment to the country.

Foreign Secretary William Hague defended Britain's ties with Bahrain.

"Some people saying PM shouldn't meet King of Bahrain. I disagree. Engagement is best way to encourage reform and Bahrain is important partner," Hague said in a message on Twitter.

© 2011 AFP

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