Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:15 pm (KSA) 16:15 pm (GMT)

Tehran dismisses territorial claims over Bahrain

Mottaki is in Manama to smooth things over
Mottaki is in Manama to smooth things over

Bahrain said on Saturday it had received assurances from Iran that it respected its sovereignty and territorial integrity, easing tension caused by a controversial Iranian press article.

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived in Bahrain late on Friday night to smooth over the furor surrounding claims by the managing director of Iran's hard-line Kayhan newspaper that the Shiite-majority Gulf archipelago belongs to the Islamic republic.

Hossein Shariatmadari wrote that "public demand in Bahrain is the reunification of this province with its motherland, the Islamic Iran."

Mottaki on Saturday held talks with his Bahraini counterpart, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, before both gave a news conference.

"We obtained pleasing official assurances from the political leadership in Iran... which extinguished our worries and reasserted the depth of relations between our countries," Sheikh Khalid told reporters.

While Mottaki stressed that the neighboring states "respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity... what is distributed by media does not impact on this solid policy between the two countries."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit also commented on the matter on Saturday, expressing the support of the Arab world's most powerful country for Bahrain.

"Egypt insists on the independence and sovereignty of all Arab countries in light of the state of tensions and lack of stability which many parts of the region are undergoing," he said from Cairo.

The minister added that he expected Mottaki to resolve the situation in a manner satisfactory to the "special sensitivies of the dear brotherly Arab country of Bahrain."

Protesters on Friday gathered outside the Iranian embassy in Bahrain demanding an apology for the statement made by Shariatmadari, who is appointed by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Bahrain is a member, said the statement was "unfounded and aims to sow sedition."

"Such outdated claims have no credibility," GCC secretary general Abdulrahman al-Attiyah said, according to Bahrain's official news agency BNA.

The island state of Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty, is a key ally of the United States and is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

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