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Middle East

Bahrain opposition defies ban on meeting diplomats

  • Bahraini opposition leader Sheik Ali Salman, center, joined by other opposition figures, Mahmoud al-Ghassab, left, Radhi al-Musawi, second left, and Abdul Nabi Salman, right, sapeaks at a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

MANAMA: Bahrain's main Shiite opposition group is defying a ban by the island's Sunni government to have direct contacts with foreign diplomats.

Al Wefaq's secretary-general, Sheik Ali Salman, met Norwegian political affairs envoy Hakon Smedsvig on Thursday in the Bahraini capital, Manama.

Bahrain's Western-backed monarchy earlier this month banned all diplomatic contacts by political groups unless they receive official permission. The move was sharply criticized by Western governments, including the U.S.

This week, authorities detained a top Al Wefaq official on allegations of inciting violence. In return, the group announced a boycott of reconciliation talks with the government.

The strategic Gulf nation has been gripped by unrest since an uprising launched in early 2011 by majority seeking a greater political voice.

 
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