Iran expels `several` Kuwait diplomats: Report

Iran has expelled "several" Kuwaiti diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the expulsion of its diplomats.

Updated: Apr 10, 2011, 21:19 PM IST

Tehran: 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 across the Gulf.

"Iran has expelled in retaliation several Kuwaiti
diplomats," the Islamic republic`s Arabic-language Al-Alam
television reported today, quoting an informed source who did
not reveal how many diplomats had been asked to leave the
country.

The source said the Kuwaiti embassy had been told that
the diplomats were to leave Iran "soon", Al-Alam reported.

But Iran`s English-language Press TV said on its
website, without giving a source, that "three" Kuwaiti
diplomats were expelled after "three" Iranian diplomats were
told to leave Kuwait "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 ever 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 issue was also raised by the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) -- uniting Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United
Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, in addition to Kuwait -- which
accused Tehran of interfering in their internal affairs.

Iran was quick to reject the accusations, with
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying Tehran did not need to 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 press conference on
April 4.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had also
dismissed Kuwaiti 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 also 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".

PTI