Gulf troops to stay till Iran threat gone says Bahrain
Dubai, April 18, 2011
Saudi and UAE forces will only leave Bahrain when an Iranian threat to GCC countries is judged to be over, Bahrain's foreign minister said on Monday.
Gulf troops headed to the kingdom in March under the aegis of a Gulf defence pact.
'There are no Saudi forces, there are GCC forces and they will leave when they are done with any external threat,' Shaikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in the UAE.
Asked to elaborate, he said: 'The external threat is a regional one. The external threat is a complete misunderstanding between the GCC and Iran. This is a threat.'
'I am not pointing fingers here, but what we are seeing from Iran, on Bahrain, on Saudi Arabia, on Kuwait, the occupation of the islands of the Emirates, doesn't make the situation a positive one. It keeps it a constant threat, and ongoing one.'
Bahrain has put two Iranians and a Bahraini on trial on charges of spying for Iran, while Kuwait this month expelled three Iranian diplomats accused of involvement in a spy ring.
Tehran then asked three Kuwaiti diplomats to leave.
Iran and the UAE have a dispute stretching back many years over three islands occupied by Iran but claimed by the UAE.
Saudi Arabia has threatened unspecified measures if Iran fails to protect its diplomats after students demonstrated outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran last week.
Bahrain's foreign minister repeated comments he made last week that Bahrain does not intend to close down the biggest opposition party, Wefaq.
'The position is not to dissolve Wefaq. Wefaq committed some violations. There is a court case, but there is no witchhunt here,' Sheikh Khaled said. 'Wefaq will stay and we want to see Wefaq as partner for the future.'
The foreign minister said the government had no conditions for talks with Wefaq. 'We don't have any conditions. We've never had any conditions. We have been waiting for them to come for a long time without conditions'. - Reuters