Iran, Bahrain reject newspaper’s province claim


The editor of the daily Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, who is considered close to the Iranian leadership, had said in the article that Bahrain was a province of non-Arab Shia Iran, triggering protests in the small island kingdom.

‘The two countries respect … the integrity and sovereignty (of each other),’ visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference in Bahrain. ‘What has been published by newspapers or some … individuals in the two countries does not affect this clear policy.’

Motakki’s visit came a day after some 800 mostly Sunni Muslim Bahrainis, including clerics and parliamentarians, protested outside Iran’s embassy, chanting anti-Iranian slogans and clutching pictures of Bahrain’s ruling family.

Bahrain has a majority Shia Muslim population, but is ruled by a Sunni royal family. Tensions have often flared as Shia s complain of discrimination in jobs and services.

U.S.-allied Bahrain hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, whose deployment of two aircraft carriers off Iranian waters in recent months has raised pressure on the Islamic Republic in a standoff with the West over its nuclear programme.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told reporters he received assurances from Mottaki that ‘relieved anxiety’.

‘We held serious talks … in a spirit of brotherhood that dealt with a flare up of allegations that are baseless,’ Shaikh Khaled said.

Mottaki’s entourage said his visit was not connected to the Kayhan article, and had been arranged weeks earlier to strengthen bilateral ties and discuss regional issues.


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