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Hague warns on Bahrain Grand Prix

Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned Formula One it had "not done itself any good" by its decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix amid continuing concerns about the suppression of anti-government protests.

In the Commons, Mr Hague stressed the decision to allow the race to go ahead in October, following its earlier postponement in February, was a matter for FIA - the sport's governing body.

But pressed repeatedly by MPs, he acknowledged that Formula One faced "widespread opposition" over the way the matter had been dealt with.

"Formula One has not done itself any good by what has been announced," he said.

Among the MPs to condemn the move was the former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell who said it was "simply shameful" while shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said that it was "not the time" for such decisions.

But urged to intervene and ask the FIA to "think again", Mr Hague insisted: "They must make their own decision."

In a wide-ranging statement on recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, the Foreign Secretary accused Iran of fuelling the brutal suppression of anti-government protests in Syria.

He said that Iran had been supplying "equipment and technical advice" to President Bashar Assad's regime to help it put down the demonstrations. He told MPs that Tehran's actions had heightened international concerns about its nuclear programme, amid widespread fears that it is seeking to develop a nuclear bomb.

"Iran is combining brutal suppression of opposition leaders at home with the provision of equipment and technical advice to help the Syrian regime crush protests in Syria," he said. "This is unacceptable, and compounds our concern about Iran's behaviour and its intentions over its nuclear programme."

At the same time, Mr Hague sought to increase the pressure on the Syrian regime, warning that it could face further European sanctions if the violence against the demonstrators continues. "President Assad is losing legitimacy and should reform or step aside," he said.

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