Iran General NewsGulf Arabs slam Iran meddling, urge Yemen dialogue

Gulf Arabs slam Iran meddling, urge Yemen dialogue

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Reuters: Gulf Arab states voiced deep concern on Sunday over what they called Iranian interference in their affairs after Iran objected to the despatch of Saudi troops to Bahrain and a spying row raised tensions.

By Reem Shamseddine and Jason Benham

RIYADH, April 3 (Reuters) – Gulf Arab states voiced deep concern on Sunday over what they called Iranian interference in their affairs after Iran objected to the despatch of Saudi troops to Bahrain and a spying row raised tensions.

A statement issued after a meeting of foreign ministers of the six-members Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) “severely condemned Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain which is in violation of international pacts”.

Shi’ite Iran has criticised Saudi Arabia for sending troops to Bahrain which faces protests by majority Shi’ites against the small island state’s Sunni royal family.

Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf states, wary of Iran’s influence and Shi’ite unrest, see Bahrain as posing the biggest threat of the popular uprisings that have swept the region since January.

The meeting “condemned the baseless accusations (by) the Iranian parliament regarding Saudi Arabia and considers it a hostile stand and a provocative interference”.

A key committee of Iran’s parliament’s had warned that Saudi Arabia was “playing with fire” by sending troops to Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states say the troops were sent under a joint GCC defence agreement.

CALL FOR IRAN TO RECONSIDER STAND

“I hope the Iranian leadership reconsiders its relationship and its co operation and its dealing with … GCC nations in a serious and real manner,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, told reporters.

The meeting also condemned “the blatant Iranian interference in Kuwait through planting spy cells on its territory”.

A Kuwaiti court last week sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death for being part of an alleged Iranian spy ring in a case that has strained Kuwait-Tehran relations.

Kuwait said on Thursday it may expel three Iranian diplomats over the spying row and withdrew its ambassador from Tehran.

Iran has denied the spying allegations and said it did not interfere in Kuwait’s internal affairs.

Sheikh Abdullah nodded when asked whether Western-allied Gulf states would take diplomatic steps against Iran. “I don’t think it is appropriate for me to disclose these steps for the time being, I mean diplomatic steps,” he said.

The statement also voiced concern over the “deterioration of the security situation and the division in Yemen” after weeks of protests demanding the end of the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and called for all sides to engage in a national dialogue.

“On Yemen, there are some ideas that will be addressed to the Yemeni sides. I don’t want to use the word mediation because now we are in a stage of feeling the pulse,” Sheikh Abdullah said. (Editing by Michael Roddy)

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