GCC summit in Riyadh
Bahrain ire over Iran comments on union plan
Manama, May 16, 2012
Bahrain has summoned Iran's charge d'affaires to protest at what it called 'gross violation of its sovereignty' in a new diplomatic row after Tehran criticised efforts by Gulf states to forge closer political and military union.
Arab heads of state met in Riyadh on Monday to discuss a call by Saudi King Abdullah to unite the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to counter Iran's growing influence in the Middle East, but failed to agree on further integration.
Talks on the matter are to resume later this year.
There was speculation surrounding the Riyadh meeting that an initial union would be announced between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Bahrain would be better off heeding the calls of its people instead of seeking a union with other Gulf monarchies.
Responding to an Iranian MP's comments reiterating Iranian territorial claims to Bahrain, the official Irna news agency on Monday quoted Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani as saying: 'If Bahrain is supposed to be integrated into another country, it must be Iran and not Saudi Arabia.'
Bahrain's Foreign Ministry condemned both comments, saying diplomats presented a protest memorandum to the Iranian charge d'affaires in Manama.
'These statements represent a flagrant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom, and gross violation of its sovereignty and independence, (and they) constitute completely unacceptable conduct,' the ministry said in a statement carried by Bahrain's official BNA news agency late on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a media adviser to Bahrain's His Majesty King Hamad was quoted as saying a new meeting to ratify the union would convene in Riyadh before a scheduled Gulf summit in Manama in December.
'The GCC Union is so close and will materialise soon', BNA quoted Nabeel Al-Hamer as saying on his Twitter account.
He said that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already given their full backing for a GCC union, while Kuwait and the UAE had expressed reservations about certain points. Oman was totally 'reserved in its stance', it added.
After the summit, Prince Saud also urged Iran 'not to interfere' if an agreement was reached for a union. - Reuters