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Amid Saudi-Iran spat, Kuwait recalls ambassador to Tehran

January 05, 2016

TEHRAN: Kuwait says it has recalled its ambassador to Iran over attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic Republic.

Kuwait's announcement, which was carried on the state-run Kuwait News Agency on Tuesday, did not elaborate or say how the Kuwait-Iran diplomatic ties would be affected.

The move comes after Saudi Arabia, followed by Bahrain and Sudan, partially downgraded its relations with Iran after protesters attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad following the kingdom's execution of a top Shia cleric who was also an opposition figure.

The United Arab Emirates, home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians, partially downgraded its relations with Iran.

Tiny Kuwait is home to both Shias and Sunnis living in peace and has the most free-wheeling political system among all Gulf nations.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed 47 people, most of whom were convicted of Al Qaeda attacks. Four of those executed were Shias, including prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Iran expressed "regret" over the attacks on the diplomatic missions in a letter to the United Nations (UN) on Monday and vowed to arrest those responsible.

In the letter, obtained by The Associated Press, Iran's UN envoy Gholamali Khoshroo said more than 40 protesters have been arrested and that authorities are searching for other suspects.

In response to a Saudi letter, the UN Security Council late Monday strongly condemned the attacks by Iranian protesters on Saudi diplomatic posts. The council statement, agreed to after hours of negotiations, made no mention of the Saudi executions or the rupture in Saudi-Iranian relations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said on Monday his country would also halt air traffic and commercial relations with Iran. He blamed Iran’s “aggressive policies” for the diplomatic action.

After a furious response in Shia communities worldwide to the cleric’s execution, Adel Jubeir on Monday alleged that Iran was creating "terrorist cells" among his country’s Shias.

Tehran accused Riyadh of using an attack on the Saudi embassy as an "excuse" to sever ties and increase sectarian tensions, as protesters in Iran and Iraq marched for a third day to denounce the execution of Nimr al Nimr.

Accusing Saudi Arabia of stoking regional tension, the Iranian foreign ministry’s spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said: “Saudi Arabia sees not only its interests but also its existence in pursuing crises and confrontations and attempts to resolve its internal problems by exporting them to the outside.

“What happened in regard to diplomatic missions, it is not the first time such a thing happens worldwide.”

By severing diplomatic relations, Saudi Arabia was "continuing the policy of increasing tension and clashes in the region", he said.

Ansari, who said that Iranian diplomats had not yet left Riyadh, insisted that Iran had always protected diplomatic missions to ensure the safety of diplomats and dealt with transgressions.

The Saudi Foreign Minister said Saudi Arabia had been right to execute Nimr al Nimr, whom he accused of "agitating, organising cells, providing them with weapons and money".

Iranian pilgrims would still be welcome for Haj and Umrah, the minister had said.