White House chides Yemen, Bahrain governments for violence

WASHINGTON Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:52pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House chided U.S. allies Yemen and Bahrain on Sunday for violence used against protesters in those countries and urged both to exercise restraint.

"We urge the governments of these countries to show restraint, and to respect the universal rights of their people," the White House said in a statement.

"We urge the government of Bahrain to pursue a peaceful and meaningful dialogue with the opposition rather than resorting to the use of force."

One person died and scores were hurt on Sunday when Yemeni police fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters in Sanaa demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule, according to medical sources.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been gripped by its worst unrest since the 1990s after protesters took to the streets last month, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

Protesters blocked a main thoroughfare to Bahrain Financial Harbour on Sunday, a major business district in the Gulf Arab banking center, facing off with police who fired clouds of tear gas and water cannon.

In one of the most violent confrontations since troops opened fire on protesters last month, youths erected barricades across the highway after overwhelming riot police near the Pearl roundabout, the focal point of weeks of demonstrations.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Eric Beech)

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