US calls for Bahrain dialogue

Washington — The United States urged Bahrain's Sunni-led government on Thursday to promote dialogue with the Shiite opposition after two years of political upheaval in the country.

US Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Rashad Hussain met senior Bahraini government officials, political leaders, civil society activists and religious leaders in Manama earlier this week.

"He underscored US encouragement for all segments of Bahraini society to promote unity and reform through the ongoing National Dialogue," the State Department said in a statement.

"He discussed the importance of rejecting the use of violence and promoting human rights, including religious freedom, for all Bahrainis."

Bahrain has witnessed two years of political unrest linked to opposition demands for a constitutional monarchy, with the unrest claiming at least 80 lives, according to international rights groups.