'No evidence' of UK arms in Bahrain

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William Hague insisted there is no evidence Bahrain is using British-made products to crack down on protesters

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said there is no evidence Bahrain is using British-made products to crack down on protesters.

Mr Hague demanded Bahrain’s leaders involve opposition politicians in reforms, and said the UK’s “strict” export criteria aims to prevent governments providing weapons for internal repression.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have no evidence that they have been used.”

Mr Hague added: “I’m not relaxed about it – we have very strict export licensing criteria in this country.

“We do not sell material to other countries that are likely to be used for internal repression or to fuel regional or international conflicts.”

He urged Bahraini leaders to come together and discuss how to change the ruling system.

Mr Hague said: “My advice would be that reforms which did take place – particularly in the years after 1999, when the king took the throne – that those reforms need to be continued, that dialogue with opposition forces in Bahrain is extremely important and must be recommenced at the first opportunity.

“That dialogue ought to lead to further reforms in the political system and respond to the legitimate grievances.

“But it will be difficult for foreign countries to lay down the details.”

He added: “I don’t think it’s for foreign countries to lay down the personalities, the individual who should be prime minister or president.”

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