Bahrain king seeks meeting on Mideast future

Bahraini King Hamad suggested to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday an Arab meeting to discuss the future of the Middle East, where shockwaves from Tunisia’s uprising are spreading. In a telephone call, Hamad suggested “holding an Arab meeting to discuss and adopt a strategy on the future and progress of the Arab nation, in the interests of the Arab people, their security and stability,” the official news agency BNA said.

King Hamad said he was confident Mubarak could manage Egypt and assure its stability, which he said was crucial to the “stability of all Arab nations.” Despite a ban on public gatherings, clashes between protesters and police erupted in Egypt for a second day on Wednesday, the country’s largest protests since Mubarak came to power 30 years ago. Chanting slogans demanding Mubarak’s departure, protesters have been inspired by the Tunisian uprising that led to the departure on January 14 of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of iron-fisted rule. The White House on Wednesday called for Egypt, one of its closest allies, to lift the ban on demonstrations after at least 500 protesters were arrested. And the European Union has implored Egypt to listen to popular demands for political change, which have drawn parallels with the Tunisian revolution. – Khaleej Times