Gates visits Bahrain amid huge protests

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MANAMA, Bahrain — As security forces and pro-government vigilantes beat back protesters here, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived Friday on an unannounced visit to offer American support to the royal family and prod the king and the crown prince toward talks with protesters demanding more democracy.

His visit took place against a backdrop of large and continuing protests across numerous Arab capitals on Friday, with neither repression nor government concessions stemming the tide of anger and demands for change.

The region’s protests were for the most part peaceful, although there were scattered reports of injuries.

Full story: Gates visits Bahrain amid huge protests