Obama welcomes end of emergency law in Bahrain

By the Associated Press | June 7, 2011 | 5:29 PM EDT

Bahrain's Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa speaks during a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, not shown, Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has met with the crown prince of Bahrain at the White House and is welcoming the Gulf kingdom's decision to end emergency law last week.

In a statement, the White House says Obama told Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa that stability in Bahrain depends on respect for the universal rights of citizens there, including the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. He also reaffirmed America's strong commitment to Bahrain.

Bahrain imposed emergency rule in mid-March, giving the military wide powers to suppress demonstrations led by the country's Shiite majority against the minority Sunni rulers. Bahrain invited 1,500 troops from a Saudi-led Gulf force to help suppress the unrest when emergency rule was imposed. Those troops will remain in Bahrain indefinitely.