Bahrain Deplores Shiite Opposition Pullout from Talks

Bahrain said Monday it "regrets" the withdrawal of the main Shiite opposition bloc from a national dialogue on reforms but insisted that the talks will go on with other groups.

"We regret the decision, by any participant, to withdraw from Bahrain's dialogue," Issa Abdel Rahman, the spokesman for the dialogue, said in a statement.

The process provides an important platform for participants to promote the views and interests of the people they represent," he said.

"Should any participant choose to exclude themselves from the process, the door will remain open for them to return to the talks," but "regardless of any participant's decision to leave, the dialogue will continue."

Al-Wefaq, or the Islamic National Accord Association, announced on Sunday that it was pulling out of the dialogue on reforms, saying the talks were not aimed at achieving serious results.

Khalil al-Marzooq, who led the bloc's delegation to the talks, told Agence France Presse that al-Wefaq had decided to pull out and the decision would be confirmed on Monday by its Shura (consultative) council, or leadership.

"We have tried but without success to make it a serious dialogue," he said.

The bloc had decided at the last minute to participate in the dialogue, encouraged by the international community, including the United States whose Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

Al-Wefaq, which won 18 out of 40 seats in the lower house of parliament in the last elections, had only five representatives out of some 300 delegates invited to the talks.

The dialogue follows a bloody March crackdown by security forces on Shiite-led protests calling for reforms in the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom.

Authorities say 24 people were killed in the unrest.

Source: Agence France Presse

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