'Western plot' behind Gulf region tensions: Iran

AFP , Sunday 3 Apr 2011

Iran blames deteriorating relations between the republic and Gulf monarchies on Western and Zionist agendas

Tensions between Iran and the Gulf Arab countries are the result of a "Western and Zionist conspiracy", the foreign ministry in Tehran said on Sunday.

"Sowing discord between Islamic countries, especially between Iran and the countries of the region, is a Western and Zionist conspiracy," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparst was quoted as saying on the website of state television.

"We advise regional governments to heed the demands of their people in order to stop such conspiracies," he said, while insisting that "unity" among Muslims was the key issue for Iran.

Tehran's comments come as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is slated to meet in Riyadh later Sunday to discuss "Iran's interference" in the region.

Relations between Iran and its neighbours have been strained in recent weeks, as Tehran insists on supporting the uprisings in the Arab world.

"The stance of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to support popular movements, halt repression and acts of violence, and interference of foreigners in the region," Mehmanparast said.

Iran has severely condemned the brutal crackdown of Bahrain against its Shiite opposition and the intervention of the Saudi military to help the Sunni authorities restore order in the tiny emirate.

Tehran is also faced with a new crisis after Kuwait accused several Iranian diplomats of having links to a spy ring and promised to expel them.

Iran has denied of having any connection with the espionage network.

On Saturday, the new Gulf Cooperation Council secretary general, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, condemned "Iran's meddling in the internal affairs of GCC countries" saying it "threatened security and stability in the region".

Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of meddling in the Gulf, in response to a statement by an influential Iranian parliamentary committee which called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain and accused Riyadh of "playing with fire" in the region.

In addition to Saudi Arabia Bahrain and Kuwait, the GCC groups Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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