In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability, but more are required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc – the Wifaq – to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. And we believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart.
Each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend upon elections that are free and fair; governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; and justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are elements of a peace that lasts.
Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy – with greater trade and investment, so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also civil society – students and entrepreneurs; political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from travelling to our country, and sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who have been silenced.
Now I know that for many in this hall, one issue stands as a test for these principles – and for American foreign policy: the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.