07/09/2014, 00.00
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For US diplomat expelled by Manama, "Those committed to reconciliation should not be deterred"

Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, is declared "persona non grata" after meeting with al-Wefaq, a Shia opposition group, and with a human rights activist.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The decision by the Government of Bahrain to expel US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski as "persona non grata" was "about undermining dialogue" in the country, Malinowski himself tweeted on Tuesday, the day after he was asked to leave the Gulf nation.

Mr Malinowski had arrived in Bahrain on Sunday for a three-day trip. He was scheduled to meet with al-Wefaq, a Shia opposition group that has been protesting for years (pictured), and with Nabeel Rjab, a leading human rights activist.

However, in meeting al-Wefaq, Mr Malinowski's actions ran "counter to conventional diplomatic norms", Bahrain's Foreign Ministry said since it constituted an intervention in the country's domestic affairs.

On Monday, US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States was "deeply concerned" by Bahrain's demand.

The Government of Bahrain, she explained, "is well aware that US government officials routinely meet with all officially recognised political societies".

For Malinowski, the issue goes deeper. "Those committed to reconciliation should not be deterred," he said.

Bahrain, an American ally, is currently home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

After the incident, Bahraini authorities tried to downplay the diplomatic row, saying that the incident "should not in any way affect the two countries' relationship of mutual interests."

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