Iran General NewsIran expels Kuwaiti diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Iran expels Kuwaiti diplomats in tit-for-tat move

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AFP: Iran has expelled “several” Kuwaiti diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the expulsion of its diplomats accused of spying in the emirate, in a fresh blow to already tense relations in the Gulf.

By Mohammad Davari

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran has expelled “several” Kuwaiti diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the expulsion of its diplomats accused of spying in the emirate, in a fresh blow to already tense relations in the Gulf.

“Iran has expelled several Kuwaiti diplomats in retaliation to the expulsion of three of its diplomats… and one Iranian embassy employee in Kuwait,” state television said on its website, quoting an informed foreign ministry source.

The source, who did not reveal how many diplomats had been targeted, said the Kuwaiti embassy had been told that the envoys were to leave Iran within “10 days,” the website reported.

But Iran’s English-language Press TV said on its website, without giving a source, that “three” Kuwaiti diplomats were told to leave after the Iranian diplomats were expelled “on April 2.”

Kuwait announced on March 31 that a number of Iranian diplomats would be expelled for alleged links to an espionage network working for Tehran, reportedly since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Sabah claimed the diplomats had proven links to the suspected ring of which three members, including two Iranians, had been condemned to death by a Kuwaiti court.

The row prompted Kuwait to recall its ambassador from Tehran.

On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed voiced dismay at Iran’s move to expel the Kuwaiti diplomats.

“We hoped to hear assurances from Iran about their respect for Kuwait’s sovereignty and that they are not interfering in our internal affairs,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the Iranian reaction was contrary to what we had hoped,” he told reporters. “We have a spy ring aiming at harming Kuwait’s security.”

The issue was also raised by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — grouping Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, in addition to Kuwait — which accused Tehran of interfering in its internal affairs.

Iran was quick to reject the accusations, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying Tehran did not need to spy on its “friends” in the region.

“It is clear that (this allegation) has no meaning. What is this spying in Kuwait all about? What does Kuwait have that we spy on it?” Ahmadinejad asked at a news conference on April 4.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had also dismissed the charges, saying it was a “conspiracy” aimed at sowing discord among Islamic countries.

Arab-Iranian relations across the Gulf have been damaged in recent weeks, as Tehran vocally insists on supporting the popular uprisings in the region.

Iranian officials have strongly condemned the violent crackdown by Bahrain against its Shiite opposition as well as a decision by its Sunni monarch to ask Saudi-led GCC troops to be deployed in the tiny island.

The GCC in return accused the Shiite powerhouse of plotting against the security of its Sunni monarchies and of fanning confessional discord among their citizens.

Ahmadinejad has dismissed as worthless the Arab warning, saying it “was issued under pressure from America and its allies.”

Meanwhile Salehi on Saturday announced Iran was prepared to diplomatically “resolve” differences with its neighbours.

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