x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iran 'must respect its neighbours'

Ministers issue joint statement urging Iran against 'interference' amid heightened regional tension.

ABU DHABI // The Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, last night urged Iran to view its neighbours with "responsibility and respect", and not to "interfere in their internal affairs" amid heightened regional tension.

"Iran should reconsider its policies in the region," Sheikh Abdullah told the annual GCC-European Union ministerial meeting in the capital.

"I'm trying to weigh up my words accurately because I don't want to act like some Iranian officials who throw words in a crude and inappropriate way," he said. "All I wish for is that Iran looks at its neighbours with responsibility, respect and appreciation - and with respect for the unity of these countries."

Iran must "respect the unity and sovereignty of Gulf countries", he added, according to WAM, the state news agency.

The EU and GCC urged Iran to play a more "constructive role in the region" and "cease interfering in the internal affairs of GCC member states and other countries in the region", WAM reported.

Ministers called on Iran to fulfil its obligations under international law to provide protection for diplomatic missions in Iran, WAM said. Sheikh Abdullah's remarks come amid heightened tensions between Iran and its Gulf neighbours, with the two sides locked in a war of words that began with the protests against Bahrain's rulers.

A Saudi-led Gulf force that included UAE police entered Bahrain on March 14. The UAE holds the rotating presidency of the GCC.

In a reference to Iran, the Bahraini foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, said on Monday that Gulf troops entered "to deter an external threat".

"We have never seen a sustained campaign from Iran on Bahrain and the Gulf like we've seen in the past two months. Usually it's a short-lived one and then back off. This time is something different," Sheikh Khaled said. "We wrote a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, and in that letter we have a full attachment of the threats and of all the evidence we have against Iran and Hizbollah."

The Kuwaiti foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al Salem al Sabah, meanwhile confirmed that Iranian diplomats accused of spying had been expelled.

"We kicked them out," Sheikh Mohammed said yesterday.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse