Iran minister says Bahrain ‘secretly’ asked Iran to talk to the Bahraini opposition
Manama: Bahrain has denied a claim that it had asked Iran to mediate in the political deadlock that has hit the country for two years.
“Bahrain has not and will not ask for a mediation in a domestic issue from anyone, least of all from Iran,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the foreign minister, said on his Twitter account.
The foreign ministry in a statement strongly rejected the claims made by Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi about an alleged request by Bahrain to Iran to mediate, saying that they were false, lacked credibility and were a blatant interference in the kingdom’s internal affairs.
Media reports said that the Iranian minister claimed during a press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman on Tuesday that Bahrain wanted him to talk to the opposition to persuade them to sit with the Bahraini government and look for a peaceful solution.
Article continues below
Salehi said that he accepted Bahrain’s request and expressed readiness to mediate, but insisted on making a public visit to Manama.
He added that Bahrain’s foreign minister said that the visit should not be announced to the public.
However, Shaikh Khalid denied the allegations.
“I have never asked the foreign minister of Iran to visit Bahrain secretly or to interfere in our domestic affairs. If he wants to visit Bahrain, he should address me formally,” Shaikh Khalid tweeted to his 137,946 followers.
Relations between Manama and Tehran have plummeted to their lowest level in years following sharp divergences over the events that occurred in Bahrain in February and March 2011.
Bahrain accused Iran of interfering in its internal affairs and of supporting anti-government protesters.
Iran was particularly critical of Bahrain after the island kingdom called in the Peninsula Shield, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), “to help guard vital installations in the kingdom” during the unrest that hit the country.
However, Tehran said the presence of GCC troops amounted to an invasion of Bahrain and called for their withdrawal.
The GCC issued a statement to refute Tehran’s claims and to ask Iran not to meddle in the council’s internal affairs.
In his statement in Amman, Salehi said that Iran did not interfere in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
“We have repeatedly announced that we believe in Bahrain’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and we have an embassy in Manama,” he said.
Although the Iranian embassy remained open after Bahrain and Iran recalled their respective ambassadors in March 2011, Tehran has not yet reinstated its ambassador in the Bahraini capital
The Bahraini envoy to Iran resumed his work in the Iranian capital in August 2012.