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UK to urge Bahrain to end violence, embrace reform

LAST UPDATED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 12, 2011

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron was pressing Bahrain's king on Monday to quickly implement reforms recommended in a scathing report into human rights abuses during the Arab nation's uprising.

Cameron's office said the leader was holding talks at Downing Street with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to urge Bahrain to take up proposals outlined in a study published last month.

A special commission, authorized by Bahrain's Sunni rulers, last month outlined the harsh treatment of anti-government protesters as state security forces tried to put down the largest of the Arab Spring uprisings to hit the Gulf.

The 500-page document, compiled by an independent panel of legal experts, was commissioned by Bahrain's leadership in a bid to ease tensions with Shiite opposition supporters.

It documented the use of torture, excessive force and fast-track trials by the government.

Last month, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague told Bahrain the "world will be watching to ensure that it acts decisively in the coming days and weeks to address the serious abuses identified."

Since the critical report, Bahrain has hired John Yates, a former assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan police, and the former head of Miami police, John Timoney, to advise the kingdom's police force.

Bahrain's government has also vowed there will be no immunity for anyone suspected of abuses and said it would propose creating a permanent human rights commission.

Cameron and Khalifa were also scheduled to discuss trade, likely including hopes of furthering ties in the liquid natural gas sector.

In a meeting with Bahrain's crown prince earlier this month, Hague said Britain's exports to Bahrain had increased by 30 percent in the past year.

The king's visit to Britain Monday was unannounced. There was no immediate statement from Bahrain's government on the reasons for the trip.

Bahrain enjoys long-standing ties to both Britain and the U.S., which uses the tiny island nation as the base for its 5th Fleet naval force.

The king was expect to offer assurances to Cameron that the Sunni monarchy is committed to pursuing reforms and easing tensions with the country's majority Shiites, the main backers of protests that erupted earlier this year along with similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab states.


Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai contributed to this report.

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