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Thu 20 Oct 2011 12:23 PM

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US delays $53m arms deal to Bahrain

US gov't to hold deal pending results of probe into Bahrain crackdown on unrest

US delays $53m arms deal to Bahrain
US President Barack Obama has agreed to delay a weapons sale to Bahrain

The Obama administration has agreed to delay a $53m arms sale to Bahrain pending the outcome of a local investigation into alleged human-rights abuses since an uprising in February.

The administration said it would postpone the deal after five US democrats appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over the sale, which they claimed would weaken US credibility, media reports said.

“We will weigh these factors and confer with Congress before proceeding with additional steps related to the recently notified arms sale,” David Adams, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, who opposed the sale. 

The sale, which includes 300 missiles and more than 44 armoured Humvees, will be delayed pending the outcome of the probe into the government-led crackdown on protesters, said the State Department.

The findings of Bahrain’s ‘Independent Commission of Inquiry’ are due to be reported to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on October 30. They will also be published online.

Governments across the world have come under increasing pressure to stop selling security equipment to countries implicated in the Arab Spring protests over concerns the weapons could be used to put down uprisings.

Bahrain in March imposed martial law and called in troops from its Gulf neighbours in a bid to quell weeks of unrest amid pro-reform demonstrations in which more than 30 people died.

Russia’s state-run arms trader Rosoboronexport said in August it would sell weapons to Bahrain for the first time after the UK and France banned deliveries of security equipment to the Gulf state.

Rosoboronexport told Bloomberg it was selling to AK103 Kalashnikovs with grenade launchers and ammunition.

President Obama in February condemned the use of violence to curb anti-government protests across the Arab world.

“I am deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” he said in a written statement.

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