Kuwait shuts Iran cultural mission, Tehran summons chargé d'affaires

Iranian state television said Kuwait's Foreign Ministry summoned Tehran's ambassador and ordered the number of diplomats to be cut from 19 to four and the closure of the cultural and military missions.

Kuwait's move came following a court ruling a year ago that implicated some Iranians in a spying case, known as the "Abdali cell".

Kuwait also reduced the number of Iranian diplomats to 9, while giving Iranian diplomats 45 days to leave the country.

During the meeting with Al-Hajraf, an official with Iran's foreign ministry rejected the false charges and regretted that Kuwait City is raising groundless accusations against Tehran instead of trying to ease the pointless tensions in the region and exercising self-restraint in reaction to pressures and provocations by regional adventurous sides, Qassemi said.

A court sentenced last month members of a cell allegedly linked to Tehran and Lebanon-based Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges.

Iranian official source, ISNA news agency, reported that Ambassador Alireza Enayati has been asked to leave.

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The disputed region has seen an explosion of protests against Indian rule since government forces shot and killed Wani a year ago. The Indian government said that Islamabad was praising a terrorist belonging to a prohibited terrorist group.

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.

Kuwaiti authorities busted what they said was a "terrorism" cell with ties to Iran in August 2015 and seized large quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives.

The supreme court, whose rulings are final, overturned their acquittal on June 18 and sentenced them to between five and 15 years in prison. State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, who is also acting information minister, confirmed Kuwait had taken diplomatic action against Iran.

In a statement earlier this week, the ministry said 14 convicts had fled to Iran in a speedboat.

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.

  • Megan Austin