US President Barack Obama has called for "meaningful reform" and respect for universal rights in Bahrain, during talks with Crown Prince Salman at the White House.

Obama dropped by Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken's meeting with the prince on Wednesday and stressed the importance of the US partnership in Bahrain and Washington's support for its stability and security.

Salman, a reputed moderate, has just been made Bahrain's first deputy prime minister following months of tensions and unrest between the strategic archipelago's Sunni government and Shiite majority.

"The president emphasised US support for Bahrain's stability and security," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

Obama also stressed that "meaningful reform, dialogue and respect for universal human rights is the best path to achieving the peace and security that all Bahraini citizens deserve," she said.

Bahrain, home to the headquarters of US Navy's Fifth Fleet, was rocked by month-long protests in early 2011 linked to opposition demands for a constitutional monarchy.

The protests were crushed with the help of Gulf troops led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite-ruled Iran, Bahrain has since witnessed sporadic demonstrations, now mostly outside the capital.

Source: AFP