WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday spoke over phone with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain to discuss the "ongoing situation" in the Gulf state, White House said in a statement. Obama said that the United States believes that Bahrain's stability depends upon "respect for the universal rights" of its people, according to the statement. He also called for a process of "meaningful reform" that is responsive to the "aspirations of all Bahrainis," the statement said.
Bahrain, which hosts the headquarters of U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has recently been swept by anti-government protests -- most by majority Shiite -- demanding more political and economic reforms. Some of the protesters have called for bringing down the county's ruling family led by the king, a strong U. S. ally, and establishing a constitutional monarchy. (Xinhua)