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Iran foreign minister to visit Kuwait, ties chilly

Iranian foreign minister to meet Kuwait's emir; Embassy was not informed about case details

May 17, 2011 9:39 by

Iran’s foreign minister is due to visit Kuwait this week, the Iranian embassy said on Monday, at a time of increasingly hostile relations between Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states and predominantly Shi’ite Iran.

Kuwait sentenced three men to death in March for being part of an alleged Iranian spy ring, and Bahrain has accused Tehran of stoking Shi’ite-led protests which were put down in March with the help of Saudi and UAE troops.

Iran criticised the use of Saudi troops to quell the protests, drawing an accusation of interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, greatly concerned about Iran’s influence in the region.

Iranian officials have denied meddling in Bahrain — but Iran sent a flotilla of boats carrying 120 activists there on Monday to show solidarity with protesters in the island kingdom.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will arrive in Kuwait on Wednesday and will meet the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, and other senior officials, the Iranian embassy said in a statement.

“Ali Akbar Salehi … will arrive on Wednesday … heading a high-profile delegation, and the programme includes… discussions with his brother Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah (Kuwait’s foreign minister) on the path of bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them,” the statement said.

In March, a Kuwaiti court sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death for being part of an alleged Iranian spy ring in a case that has strained relations between Kuwait and the Islamic Republic.
Kuwaiti media said in May 2010 a number of Kuwaitis and foreigners suspected of spying for Iran had been detained. Media reports said they were accused of gathering information on Kuwaiti and U.S. military sites for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The embassy has not been officially informed until now about the details (of the case),” Iran’s charge d’affaires, Mohammad Shehabi, said in the statement.

Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats last month, alleging they were involved in the espionage case, and Iran retaliated by expelling three Kuwaiti diplomats. (Reporting by Eman Goma, editing by Tim Pearce)

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