Manama: Bahrain's foreign minister has hailed the speech delivered by President Barack Obama at the United Nations general assembly.

"The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, welcomed the United States' President Barack Obama speech before the United Nations General Assembly on September 21," the ministry said in a statement.

"We note the US support for the reform process pursued by the Kingdom of Bahrain under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and stress its continuation in order to achieve the ambitions and aspirations of the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain."

According to the statement, the foreign minister "noted the relations of friendship linking the two friendly countries and their growth and development in various fields".

"The Minister also hailed the US supportive positions in strengthening and consolidating those ties and the common desire to boost cooperation between the two friendly countries in various areas," the statement said.

In his speech, Obama said that steps have been taken in Bahrain towards reform and accountability.

We are pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc - the Wefaq - to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people," he said.

"We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible," he said.

National Unity Rally

However, the National Unity Rally, a recently formed group that claims to be the most representative in Bahrain, said that Obama should not have singled out Al Wefaq in the call for the dialogue.

"President Obama should not adopt the stance of a group that refuses the other components of the Bahraini society," the Rally said in a statement following the US president's speech to the UN. "Siding with one side over all the others is ominous to the national unity that we are seeking."

President Obama should not ignore the Rally, the main opposition formation and which groups people from all religions and sects as well as minorities and has been pushing for the consolidation of the civil society, the Rally said.

"We urge President Obama not to side with any specific formation, as any particular support would be a threat to our national unity," the statement said.

Al Wefaq said that it welcomed Obama's call for dialogue and expressed readiness to engage in talks.

The society in July walked out of the national dialogue, a forum for around 300 figures to help shape the future of Bahrain following months of unrest and divisions within the Bahraini society, saying that it would not yield the anticipated results.