European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton speaks with the media as she arrives for a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday Oct. 15, 2012. Image Credit: AP

Manama: Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has welcomed the recent political developments in Bahrain related to the National Dialogue, her spokesperson has said.

“High Representative Catherine Ashton warmly welcomes the news that HRH Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, upon the request of HM King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa, held wide ranging talks with participants in the National Dialogue in recent days, including in particular with Al Wefaq’s Secretary General Shaikh Ali Salman for the first time since the events of February 2011,” the spokesperson said in a statement issued on Thursday in the Belgian capital Brussels.

The High Representative also welcomes the positive reaction of the opposition, and looks forward to the resumption of National Dialogue, the spokesperson added.

The talks, bringing together representatives from a coalition of opposition societies, another coalition of political societies, independent parliamentarians and government ministers, were suspended on January 8 after the opposition pulled out in September and the other parties agreed not to go ahead.

“The suspension of dialogue meetings last week had been a disappointment, and the EU had on this occasion reiterated its conviction that there is no solution to the current crisis other than a Bahraini one based on compromises and mutual trust,” the spokesperson said. “The EU has consistently been advocating for inclusive national reconciliation talks since February 2011, calling on all parties to engage without preconditions,” the spokesperson said.

Crown Prince Salman held a series of talks with the parties involved and they all agreed to resume the talks under new initiatives that included raising the level of representation by all parties.

The 27 participants in the talks on political issues launched on February 10 had failed to agree on the format, outcome and agenda of the dialogue amid sharp differences that could not be bridged.

“The High Representative hopes that the consultations led by HRH Crown Prince Salman, as well as the decision to raise the level of governmental and other parties’ representation in the dialogue, will pave the way for long term national reconciliation and sustainable reform in Bahrain,” Ashton’s spokesperson said.