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Expelled US diplomat invited to return to Bahrain

Manama, August 27, 2014

A senior US diplomat who was expelled from Bahrain for meddling in domestic affairs will be allowed to return, it has emerged.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tomasz Malinowski was declared persona non grata by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on July 7 and asked to leave the country, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

It followed his meeting with Al Wefaq National Islamic Society secretary general Shaikh Ali Salman and former MP Abduljalil Khalil at the opposition group's headquarters in Bilad Al Qadeem during a Ramadan majlis.

The ministry accused the diplomat of flagrantly intervening in Bahrain's internal affairs, discrimination, contravening diplomatic norms and flouting normal inter-state relations.

However, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced at a daily briefing in Washington yesterday that the diplomat had been invited to return to Bahrain by the government.

“He has received an invitation to return to Bahrain,” she said, in response to a question about Malinowski.

“There's a trip that's currently being planned, but I don't have details on that yet at this point in time.”

The spokeswoman added that the US government had been in constant contact with Bahraini authorities following their diplomat's expulsion and would continue their conversation 'through private diplomatic channels.'

“And beyond that, they remain an important partner,” she said.

“It doesn't mean we don't have concerns, as I've just expressed, where they need to take more steps to put more reforms in place.

“Our view is that the government of Bahrain has much to do in order to meet its own commitments to reform.”

“It's unfortunate that they have not taken advantage of opportunities to hear from outside observers.”

However, the news of Malinowski's return to Bahrain was met with disdain by members of the National Unity Assembly (NUA) yesterday.

“Bahrain has shown that it is committed to good relations with the US on diplomatic, trade and other channels,” said a NUA spokesman.

“But if US policies or individuals are working against the interest of Bahrain, then this is not acceptable.”

He said NUA members were left disappointed after Mr Malinowski's true intentions were exposed in July following his meeting with opposition groups.

On the other hand, outgoing Shura Council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati welcomed the move to invite the US diplomat back.

“I think this is a good gesture by Bahrain, moving forward and extending an invitation for the diplomat,” he said.

“We appreciate the steps taken by the government, but at the same time hope that the diplomat will abide by international protocol to accomplish his mission.”

Al Maskati said nothing had changed since the diplomat's departure adding that - 'local community issues are internal affairs'.

“We want to maintain a good relationship with the US that is built on mutual benefits and no matter what the size or location, abiding of international protocol for both the countries is important,” he added.

Before assuming his current post in April, Mr Malinowski was Human Rights Watch (HRW) Washington director for 13 years and has been a vocal critic of Bahrain since 2011.

In an HRW report dated May 7, 2012 Malinowski said he was among those rounded up as he watched demonstrators in Duraz protesting against the 2012 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

Testimony

During his testimony at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on August 1, 2012 he proposed denying visas and US banking access to officials and members of the security forces mentioned in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report.

Following Malinowski's visit, both Al Wefaq secretary general Shaikh Ali Salman and his assistant for political affairs Khalil Al Marzooq were charged with violating a law that bans groups meeting foreign representatives without Bahraini authorities present.

The pair were questioned at the Public Prosecution, accompanied by their lawyers, before being released on guarantee of their place of residence. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | US | Diplomat | allow | expel |

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