A top American diplomat was back in Bahrain on Thursday five months after being declared “unwelcome” by the Sunni-ruled US ally after he met with the Shiite opposition.
The official BNA news agency said Tom Malinowski, US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, was received in Manama by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa.
Sheikh Rashid spoke of the “special relationship” between Bahrain and the United States, and called for reinforcing their security cooperation.
The Gulf Arab monarchy is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a member of the US-led coalition against the jihadist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
In July, Malinowski was told he was unwelcome in Bahrain after meeting with members of the Shiite opposition and “should immediately leave the country, due to his interference in its internal affairs”.
At the time, the United States expressed deep concern over the move.
Malinowski had met leaders of the opposition, including cleric Ali Salman, head of the main Shiite movement Al-Wefaq.
Rights groups have repeatedly criticised the United States for not taking a strong stance on Bahrain’s crackdown on dissent since it crushed a month of Shiite-led protests in March 2011.
The opposition has campaigned for a genuine constitutional monarchy, and quit a national dialogue after two rounds of negotiations launched by the king, complaining of a lack of concessions.