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12 mai 2012 6 12 /05 /mai /2012 11:50

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May. 11, 2012 By LACHLAN CARMICHAEL (AFP) – Defense news


WASHINGTON — The United States said May 11 it is partially resuming sales of military supplies to key Gulf Arab ally Bahrain but maintaining a freeze on certain wire-guided missiles and vehicles.


State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said “the items that we are releasing are not used for crowd control,” urging Bahrain to tackle “serious unresolved human rights issues” amid a crackdown on pro-democracy activists.


Tear gas and stun grenades were excluded from the sales, according to U.S. officials. A senior U.S. administration official told reporters on condition of anonymity that a frigate and harbor security boats as well as upgraded F-16 engines would be transferred to Bahrain.


The equipment and services were released “for the purpose of helping Bahrain maintain its external defense capabilities,” she said. “We will continue to maintain the holds on the TOW missiles and Humvees that were notified to Congress last October,” she said amid concerns they could be used against protesters.


Nuland was referring to Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missiles as well as the all-terrain Humvees that have replaced the traditional Jeep.


“Certain additional items for the Bahrain Defense Force, as well as all items for the Ministry of the Interior, excepting the Coast Guard and units deployed in Afghanistan, will also remain on hold,” she added.


A Congressional Research Service report last month said Washington had not discontinued arms sales and anti-terrorism aid to Bahrain, but some of the supplies remained on hold or were at reduced levels following the unrest.


The announcement on military cooperation came amid a visit to the United States by Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa who met May 9 with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


Clinton said “much work remains to fully address ongoing human rights issues,” according to Nuland, after the pair discussed Bahrain’s efforts to implement recommendations from an independent probe into the crackdown on pro-democracy protests.


“She encouraged the Bahraini government to champion a clear process — in both word and action — that leads to meaningful institutional and political reforms that take into account the interests and aspirations of all Bahrainis,” Nuland said.


King Hamad promised reforms after the independent commission probing Bahrain’s March 2011 crackdown on Shiite-led democracy protests reported in November that police had used “excessive force” and tortured detainees.


Amnesty International says 60 people have been killed in Bahrain since the uprising began in mid-February 2011.


Bahrain serves as the headquarters for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Gulf amid perceived threats to Arab allies in the region from neighboring Iran.

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