U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined ministers and non-governmental groups from Europe and the Middle East today-Saturday at a conference in Bahrain aimed at spreading democracy in the region.
During the 2 day "Forum for the Future" opening today, Ms. Rice is expected to stress the U.S. view that economic and political reforms are needed in the Arab world to defeat terrorism. Some Arab states insist that any change must come from within, rather than forced upon them by the West.
In comments today-Saturday at the conference with the Syrian foreign minister Farouk al-Sharaa looking on, the top U.S. diplomat criticized Syria, calling for the release of a human rights activist Kamal Labwani detained Tuesday upon his return from a visit to the United States. Ms. Rice said the United States continues to support the aspirations of Syrian citizens for "liberty, democracy and justice under the rule of law."
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuter.