WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Bahrain on Wednesday to follow through on an independent probe into a crackdown on anti-regime protests, officials said.Clinton and Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa also discussed a planned $53 million US arms sale to Bahrain that has been put on hold pending the outcome of the investigation, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
"The thrust of our message to Bahrain over some months was that not only the Bahraini people but the international community and certainly the United States are waiting eagerly for the release of the results of the independent commission of inquiry," Nuland added.
The panel's report was expected by October 30 but its release has been delayed to November 23.
The pro-democracy protests that broke out in February amid the fervor of the Arab Spring were crushed by Bahraini security forces, backed by Saudi troops. The government says 24 people were killed, including four police officers, while the opposition puts the count at 31.
Nuland said the outcome of the investigation would be "a litmus test of transparency and accountability for what happened in Bahrain and particularly how the government chooses to deal with what is reported," Nuland said.
Clinton also underscored the importance of Bahrain's decision to retry in civilian courts cases that were tried by the military, she said.
Nuland defended the proposed arms sale to Bahrain, a key US ally in the Gulf that hosts the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet, saying it would bolster Manama's external defenses.
But "the Bahrainis know we have human rights standards attached to these sales, and actual transfer decisions are pending," she said.
Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, introduced legislation earlier this month to bar arms sales to Bahrain until it addresses "alleged human rights violations" since the protests began.
Copyright © 2011 AFP