DUBAI, July 24, (Agencies): Iran on Monday denied reports that Kuwait had expelled its ambassador, saying it would maintain a dialogue with the Gulf Arab state after a diplomatic row over Tehran’s alleged links to a “spy and terror” cell.
Iranian and Kuwaiti media reported on Thursday that Kuwait had ordered the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador and 14 other diplomats, worsening an unusual public dispute between the two countries.
“The ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to be present in Kuwait and the embassy will be active at the ambassadorial level, and there is no problem in this regard,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
“(Kuwait’s) action is reprehensible but we can continue our talks and contacts,” Qasemi said, quoted by IRNA.
Kuwait also told Iran’s cultural and military missions to shut down, following a court case that increased tensions between the Gulf Arab state and Tehran.
Iran responded to the expulsions by filing a complaint with the Kuwaiti charge d’affaires.
The expulsions were a rare move for Kuwait, which avoids conflict and has worked at keeping good relations with nearby countries and whose ruling Amir is a regional diplomatic broker.
Saudi Arabia, which severed ties with Tehran last year over attacks by Iranian demonstrators on its missions in the Islamic Republic, welcomed the move.
Last year, Kuwait convicted 23 men — one Iranian and the rest Kuwaiti — of spying for Iran and Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah. That trial followed the discovery of guns and explosives in a raid on the so-called “Abdali cell” in 2015.
Iran has denied any involvement in the case.
Apart from the diplomatic row with Iran, Kuwait has also been trying to mediate in the crisis involving Qatar. Some other Gulf states have imposed sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and having links to Tehran.
Last week, the Arab Parliament said it fully supports Kuwait’s recent measures aimed at preserving its security, stability, and safety.
These measures include reducing the number of Iranian diplomats in the country, closing down Iranian cultural missions along with other affiliate offices, and halting all activities related to Kuwaiti-Iranian joint committees, the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry announced earlier.
“The Arab Parliament urges the international community, particularly the UN and all its affiliated-agencies, to condemn Tehran’s interferences in Arab states’ interior affairs,” Dr Mishaal Al-Salami, Speaker of Arab Parliament, said in a statement.
These interferences contradict the policies of good neighborly relations, respecting other countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, moral and humanitarian values, and violate all international charters and national constitutions, said Al-Salami.
He also valued the Kuwaiti people’s unified stance under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
The Arab Parliament Speaker also commended the successful proactive efforts exerted by the Kuwaiti security agencies in foiling plots aimed at instituting vandalism, destruction, and chaos in the country.
Yemen on Friday announced its support to measures taken by authorities in Kuwait against Iran’s diplomatic mission in the State of Kuwait.
The Republic of Yemen stands by Kuwait against any act that undermines the security and stability of the country and the Kuwaiti people, the foreign ministry said in a statement, cited by official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The ministry commended the measures adopted by the State of Kuwait to preserve its security and stability.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that it informed the Iranian diplomatic mission to reduce the number of diplomats, close the embassy’s technical offices and suspending joint committees.
A foreign ministry sources said the decision was in light of Iranian parties’ support of what was known as Abdali terror cell members.
He added that the Iranian Ambassador was informed of the decision.