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Kuwait lowers ties with Iran

22 July 2017

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran has summoned the Kuwaiti charge d'affaires after the decision of the Kuwaiti government to reduce the number of diplomats of the Iranian diplomatic mission, local media reported Thursday.

Kuwaiti authorities Thursday expelled several Iranian diplomats at the Islamic Republic's mission in Kuwait after local authorities linked Teheran to a terror and spy cell.

The move came after Kuwait convicted a group of men, one Iranian and the rest Kuwaiti, of "spying for Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group" a year ago.

"Under the pressure of Saudi interventionist policies, and the baseless accusation of Iranian interference ..."

Meanwhile, Iranian state television said Kuwait's Foreign Ministry has summoned Tehran's ambassador and asked Iran to cut the number of diplomats in the country from 19 to four. "[Kuwait said] Alireza Enayati, the Iranian ambassador, must leave", ISNA said.

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Last month, the Kuwait's supreme court sentenced the suspected leader of the cell to life in jail and condemned 20 others to various prison terms. They severed relations with energy-rich Qatar over accusations it is too close to Shia Iran and funds extremists-allegations denied by Doha.

The so-called Abdali cell was discovered in 2015 when a farmhouse was raided in the town of Abdali, outside of Kuwait City.

The supreme court, whose rulings are final, overturned their acquittal on June 18 and sentenced them to between five and 15 years in prison. Kuwait's interior ministry also confirmed that the 14 men were on the run. Iran reserves the right to a reciprocal measure, said the foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi in a statement on his Telegram channel.

Kuwait, with a population that is about one-third Shiite, has relatively good relations with Iran, unlike the Sunni Arab kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Kuwait lowers ties with Iran