BEIRUT

Middle East

U.S. behind Gulf claims on Iran: Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN: The U.S. and its allies pressured Gulf Arab states to accuse Iran of interfering in the region, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday and also demanded Saudi forces leave Bahrain.

Gulf Arab states Sunday expressed concern at “Iranian meddling” in Bahrain and Kuwait, but Ahmadinejad said: “This statement was issued under pressure from America and its allies. It does not bear any legal value.”

The hard-line Iranian president also said that Saudi-led forces brtuought into Bahrain amid protests by the Shiite majority in the kingdom should leave.

Ahmadinejad said the Gulf Arab monarchies must “not fall into the trap of the Americans,” and should boost their ties with Tehran instead.

Acrimony between Iran and the Gulf Arab states was exacerbated by a Kuwaiti announcement Thursday that it was expelling an unspecified number of Iranian diplomats for alleged links to a spy ring working for Tehran.

Ahmadinejad denied that Iran had any link to the cell.

“It is clear that [this allegation] has no meaning. What is this spying in Kuwait all about? What does Kuwait have that we spy on it?” Ahmadinejad asked.

Ahmadinejad also said that Iran was not “interfering” in Syria.

“The government of Syria is our very good friend and it is the resistance’s forefront,” he added.

Separately, Ahmadinejad in a telephone conversation asked the U.N. chief to stop U.S. and Europe “intervention” in the region, the website of his office reported Monday.

“The time has come for the secretary general of the U.N. to play the historical and decisive role in solving the existing issues based on dialogue and understanding so the catastrophes which occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq do not happen again,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 05, 2011, on page 1.

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