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Iran rejects interference accusation by Gulf Arabs

Iran rejects accusations that it is meddling in the affairs of Gulf states, saying they are 'running away from reality'.

Iran rejected accusations from Gulf Arab states that it was meddling in their affairs, saying those countries were "running away from reality", an Iranian news agency reported yesterday.

Six US-allied states demanded Iran end what they called interference in the region, in a statement on Tuesday at the end of a two-day summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), reiterating a long-held mistrust of their main rival.

The communique did not elaborate, but the most common Gulf Arab complaint relates to Bahrain, which has repeatedly accused Tehran of interference in its internal politics by provoking protests.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast dismissed the statement. "Shifting the responsibility for the domestic problems of the regional countries is a way of running away from reality, and blaming others or using oppressive methods are not the right ways to answer civil demands," he said, according to the ISNA news agency.

Iran sees the Gulf as its own backyard and believes it has a legitimate interest in expanding its influence there.

In Manama, Bahraini foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa told reporters on Tuesday that Iran posed a "very serious threat".

"Politically, there is lots of meddling in the affairs of GCC states; an environmental threat to our region from the technology used inside nuclear facilities; and there is of course the looming nuclear programme," he said.

When asked about the Bahraini remarks, Mr Mehmanparast said they were not worth responding to, ISNA said.

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