Defense Secretary Bob Gates has arrived in Bahrain, as clashes have escalated in the tiny Persian Gulf nation that is home to the U.S. fifth fleet.
Clashes erupted Friday between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in Bahrain's largely Sunni Riffa area, the Financial Times reported.
Gates' travel was scheduled in advance of the latest outbreak of anti-government unrest.
"SecDef touched down in Bahrain for meetings [Saturday] with the [Bahraini] King and Crown Prince," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said later Friday in a tweet. He "will reassure leaders of U.S. support & encourage national dialogue."
Gates is not due to travel on to Saudi Arabia after Bahrain -- as the Envoy previously reported -- Morrell said. Another former U.S. official involved in the Middle East said that the Saudi part of the trip did not materialize because the people Gates wanted to see were not available. Gates will probably travel there in a few weeks.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is, meantime, due to travel to Egypt and Tunisia next week, the State Department announced yesterday. Clinton will also meet with Libyan opposition representatives on her trip, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said in a call with journalists Thursday. Clinton will be the highest ranking U.S. official to travel to Egypt since the ouster of Egypt's three decade ruler Hosni Mubarak last month.
Egypt is due to host a meeting of the Arab League this weekend. The bloc is expected to consider calling for humanitarian intervention or a no-fly-zone to protect Libyan citizens trying to overthrow Libya's Muammer Gadhafi.