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UK urges Bahrain to pursue reforms

Britain has welcomed Bahrain's decision to lift emergency rule, as tanks and soldiers left the heart of capital Manama.

But the Foreign Office said that the move must be followed by "concrete change and genuine political reform" in the majority-Shi'ite Gulf state which is ruled by a monarchy drawn from the Sunni minority.

Bahrain's authorities invited troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia to help suppress unrest in March after weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations. Some 30 people have died in relation to the protests.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has now called for "unity talks" with protest factions, beginning in July, as he seeks to restore normality.

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said: "We welcome the King's announcement of a National Dialogue and the lifting of the State of National Safety.

"It's now critical that there is concrete change and genuine political reform, the only way to ensuring long term stability.

"We remain deeply concerned by reports of human rights abuses, including the recent arrests of protesters and medical staff and the nature of the charges brought against them.

"We continue strongly to urge the Government of Bahrain to meet all its human rights obligations and uphold political freedoms, equal access to justice and the rule of law."

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