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Bahrain and Iran declare “good” ties after crisis

Iran had sovereignty over Bahrain: supreme leader adviser

Bahrain's and Iran's foreign ministers said on Friday they will maintain “good” bilateral ties following a crisis over official Iranian remarks that questioned the national sovereignty of the Arab Gulf state.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, during a visit to Tehran, said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki that the kingdom will continue "good neighborly" relations with Iran.

In a televised statement, the two men indicated that the diplomatic row was over.

Earlier this month, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that Iran had sovereignty over the kingdom, according to media reports.

Gulf Arab states called on Iran last week to condemn the remarks, which Bahrain's interior minister earlier rejected as irresponsible.

“Misunderstanding”

"That was a speech which caused misunderstanding and there were some misinterpretations," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told a news conference earlier this week, without elaborating.

Iran's relations with Bahrain are "based on mutual respect," Qashqavi said.

Bahrain, which has a sizeable Shiite Muslim population, halted talks with Iran over natural gas imports and summoned the Iranian ambassador to protest the Iranian remarks earlier this month.

Qashqavi said the gas contract would be valuable for both Iran and Bahrain and both sides wanted to see it implemented.

The late shah of Iran relinquished Iran's claim to Bahrain in 1970, a year before the island on the other side of the Gulf became an independent state.

Iranian leaders have carefully avoided raising the Bahrain issue since the 1979 Islamic revolution although it is occasionally brought up in the press during periods of tension with conservative Arab states across the Gulf.

That was a speech which caused misunderstanding and there were some misinterpretations

Hassan Qashqavi

“Brother to Brother”

Sheikh Khaled said he had a letter from King Hamad that was a message to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from a "brother to a brother."

"It is a goodwill letter which shows mutual respect between the two countries. This letter responds to all ill-wishers who wanted to hurt the deep relations between the two countries," he told reporters.

Earlier this week, Iranian Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli visited Bahrain and delivered a message from Ahmadinejad to express Tehran's respect towards the sovereignty of the tiny kingdom.

"What we heard in the past week hurt us both," Sheikh Khaled said, while adding that Manama "appreciated the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Mottaki said Iran's policy has been "to consolidate and deepen relations with all nations in the Persian Gulf, especially Bahrain."

The relationship between Sunni-ruled Arab states in the Gulf and Shiite Iran has long been strained, with the former wary about the Islamic republic's nuclear drive and its close ties with the new Shiite-led government in Iraq.

To consolidate and deepen relations with all nations in the Persian Gulf, especially Bahrain

Manouchehr Mottaki