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Bahrain seeks talks with opposition

Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa on Friday called on for dialogue with the mainly Shiite Muslim opposition in the Sunni-dominated country, urging them to condemn violence.

"We had our own experience of the so-called Arab Spring last year. It divided the nation, and many wounds are still to be healed," the prince told delegates at the annual Manama Dialogue organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite Iran, has experienced unrest since February 2011, when Arab Spring-style protests led by the Shiite majority erupted.

Hundreds of people were arrested when security forces aided by troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia crushed the uprising within a month.

The International Federation for Human Rights says 80 people have died in Bahrain since the unrest began.

Salman, considered to be a moderate within the ruling dynasty, spoke after thousands of Shiites in a village near the capital demanded the premier's ouster in the first officially sanctioned protest since a ban at the end of October, witnesses said.

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