Manama: Bahrain’s state television has broadcast images of the crown prince meeting with top opposition leaders one week after reconciliation talks were suspended.

Shiite opposition bloc Al Wefaq released a statement on Monday after the face-to-face with Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa saying that it hoped the meeting would result in concrete steps.

A participant in the talks, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the situation, said no foreign diplomats attended the meeting that took place at the prince’s palace.

Al Wefaq said on its website: “The meeting, that took place at the invitation of the Crown Prince, discussed methods to find a genuine dialogue that produces a new political agreement for a permanent and inclusive solution that achieves the Bahrainis’ aspirations for equality and transition to a democratic monarchy. The meeting’s discussion was honest and transparent. The opposition believes any positive outcomes from this meeting will depend on the coming steps towards real power-sharing.”

It was the first time in nearly three years that a member of the ruling family publicly met opposition leaders.

The opposition in Bahrain began protesting in early 2011 to seek greater political rights from the Gulf Arab nation’s government.
Last Thursday, Bahrain suspended a national dialogue that began last February but was boycotted months ago Al Wefaq.

The government gave no indication that the process aimed at ending the political impasse with the opposition could resume.

The decision came after eight associations announced that they too would suspend their participation in the talks.

They said in a joint statement this was due to “the absence of a party that was invited to take part in the dialogue and its withdrawal” from the talks.

It was also because of “government stances that show their lack of will to discuss matters on the agenda” leading to “unfruitful sessions” of the dialogue.

On September 18, five groups, including the main opposition Shiite movement Al Wefaq, pulled out of the national reconciliation talks after prominent Shiite ex-MP Khalil Al Marzooq was arrested on charges of inciting terrorism.

He was released after the trial opened but was banned from leaving the country, which has been hit by a sporadic uprising since February 2011.

— with inputs from AFP