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Iran snubs Bahrain FM's call for group with Israel

Says no bloc can be formed as Tel Aviv is not trustworthy

Iran rejected the Bahraini foreign minister's call for a new regional body grouping Israel, Arab states, Iran and Turkey in a United Nations- type bloc, the official IRNA news agency reported on Friday.

"With all due respect that I have for my dear brother Sheikh Khaled (bin Ahmad al-Khalifa) the foreign minister of Bahrain, I believe that this suggestion cannot be executed," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told an IRNA reporter in New York.

"Our Bahraini friends know where the real problem lies and why this (idea) cannot be implemented," he added before leaving New York, where he attended the U.N. general assembly.

Mottaki dubbed Tehran's regional arch foe as "an illegal regime with many claims, (which) still thinks of expansion and continuing occupation."

"This regime is neither legitimate nor trustworthy," he added.

The Bahraini chief diplomat unveiled his proposal for the creation of a regional bloc in an interview with pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat published on Wednesday.

"Israel, Iran, Turkey and Arab states should sit together in one organization," he was quoted as saying.

His comments were not received well back home, where lawmakers and opposition activists in Bahrain slammed them saying he should "revoke his remarks... or answer members of parliament," an opposition MP said.

The tiny Gulf kingdom is a major ally of the United States and has a free trade agreement with Washington. It also hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa met Israeli officials during World Economic Forum summits in 2000 and 2003, while Sheikh Khaled met Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni at the United Nations last year.

However, political groupings in Bahrain oppose any normalization of ties with Israel.