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Kuwait will not send forces to Bahrain - paper

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 17 Mar 2011 10:01 GMT
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KUWAIT, March 17 (Reuters) - Kuwait will not send forces to Bahrain to help put down anti-government demonstrations but may try to mediate, an Arabic newspaper reported on Thursday.

On Monday, Bahrain asked for support under a Gulf defence pact after weeks of protests by pro-democracy activists, mainly majority Shi'ites who complain of discrimination in the country led by a Sunni monarchy.

"I will leave today (Wednesday) to Bahrain to hand over a letter from His Highness the Emir to his brother King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa," the daily al-Jarida quoted Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah as saying.

The newspaper said Kuwait would not send forces and is looking into playing a mediating role, but it did not name its sources.

Some 1,000 Saudi soldiers and 500 UAE police officers entered Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, this week.

On Wednesday Bahraini forces used tanks and helicopters to drive protesters off the streets and clear a camp that had become a symbol of their demand for more democratic rights.

The crackdown prompted sympathy protests from Shi'ites across the region. Kuwait has a large Shi'ite minority which could object to Kuwait sending troops. (Reporting by Kuwait newsroom; editing by Tim Pearce)

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