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Bahrain opposition hails crown prince's call for talks

Published on Dec 10, 2012 8:00 AM
Bahraini Shiite Muslims take part in an anti-government rally in the village of Muqsha, west of Manama, on Dec 7, 2012. Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa called today for dialogue with the mainly Shiite Muslim opposition in the Sunni-dominated country, urging them to condemn violence. The opposition is demanding that the premier come from the parliamentary majority, and not be appointed from among Al-Khalifa ranks. -- PHOTO : AFP

MANAMA (REUTERS) - Bahrain opposition groups welcomed a government appeal for dialogue to break a deadlock in the restive kingdom, saying they were prepared to meet without any pre-conditions, but called for the results of talks to be put to a referendum.

The Gulf Arab state, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has been convulsed by unrest since February last year following mass demonstrations led by majority Shi'ites demanding democratic change in the Sunni-led monarchy.

The ruling Al Khalifa family brought in Gulf Arab troops, mainly from Saudi Arabia, and imposed over two months of martial law to end the uprising. Small-scale clashes between police and protesters now happen almost daily.

Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifah told a conference on Middle East security in Manama on Friday that real progress can only come through face-to-face negotiations.

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