AFP: Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah confirmed on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi that Iranian diplomats accused of spying have been expelled amid heightened Gulf tensions.
ABU DHABI, April 20, 2011 (AFP) – Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah confirmed on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi that Iranian diplomats accused of spying have been expelled amid heightened Gulf tensions.
“We kicked them out,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters on the sidelines of a Gulf Cooperation Council-EU ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi when asked about Iranian diplomats Kuwait had said it would expel.
He did not provide their names, nor the number of diplomats who were kicked out.
Iranian state television had previously said three of Tehran’s diplomats and an embassy employee were expelled from Kuwait, but Sheikh Mohammed’s remark on Wednesday was the first official confirmation from the Kuwaiti side.
Sheikh Mohammed had said on March 31 that Iranian diplomats were to be expelled for alleged links to a spy ring working for Tehran, reportedly ever since the invasion of Iraq.
The foreign minister charged that the diplomats had proven links to a suspected spy ring, three members of which a Kuwaiti court condemned to death on March 29.
Meanwhile, Kuwaiti newspapers reported on Wednesday that three Kuwaiti diplomats who were expelled from Iran in a tit-for-tat move had arrived in Kuwait the day before.
The expulsions come during heightened tensions between Gulf Arab states and their Iranian neighbour across the water. In addition to Kuwaiti allegations of Iranian spying, Bahrain has also accused Iran of meddling in its affairs.
The March 14 intervention of a Saudi-led Gulf force in Bahrain, which freed up the tiny Sunni-ruled kingdom’s security forces to crush a Shiite-led pro-democracy protest movement, sparked a war of words between Iran and its Arab neighbours.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa told reporters in Dubai on Monday that the Gulf force had entered Bahrain “to deter an external threat.”
“We have never seen a sustained campaign from Iran on Bahrain and the Gulf like we’ve seen in the past two months. Usually it’s a short-lived one and then back off; this time is something different,” he said.
“We wrote a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, and in that letter we have a full attachment of the threats and of all the evidence we have against Iran and Hezbollah,” the Lebanese Shiite group backed by Tehran.