Last updated: 16 December, 2011

Bahrain opposition leader to meet British minister

Bahrain’s Shiite opposition leader said Friday he is to meet the British minister for the Middle East in London, a week after the Gulf state’s King Hamad visited Britain.

“I will meet Mr. Alistair Burt on Monday,” Ali Salman, leader of Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq group, told AFP. The Foreign Office could not confirm the meeting.

Burt paid a two-day visit to Bahrain this week, where he met members of the government as well as representatives of business, media and civil society.

Salman said he had already met with a group of lawmakers in parliament during his trip to Britain.

In talks Monday at Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron urged King Hamad to stick to his pledges of reform after a probe found police used excessive force against demonstrators, the premier’s office said.

An independent commission said last month the death toll from a crackdown on Shiite-led pro-democracy protests earlier this year in Bahrain had reached 35, and police had used “excessive force” and tortured detainees.

The king has vowed to enact reforms.

Salman welcomed Cameron’s comments, saying: “Pushing the government to do real reform is welcome from us.”

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 Gulf state.