Bahrain summons Iran's charge d'affaires

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2012 3:57 PM
Bahrain summons Iran's charge d'affaires

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain summoned Iran's charge d'affaires on Monday to protest against what it called interference in its internal affairs.

A government statement said Mahdi Islami was called in over Iran's "deliberately attributing false information to Bahraini officials and promoting it in the media" and "through ties and contacts with specific groups in the Bahraini community".

The government gave no further details.

It's statement appeared to refer to a meeting between the Iranian consul in Manama and Bahrain's leading Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Shaikh Isa Qassim.

Shi'ite Wefaq, the main opposition group, said the meeting came after Bahrain asked Iran to "contribute in finding a breakthrough to the political crisis in the country".

It was not immediately clear when the meeting took place.

The Gulf state has been in turmoil since pro-democracy protests led by its Shi'ite majority erupted last year.

Bahrain's Sunni Muslim rulers brought in Saudi and United Arab Emirates forces to help quell the protests. Shi'ite power Iran condemned the move, saying it could lead to regional instability. Bahrain has accused Iran of being behind the unrest. Tehran denied this.

Bahrain's Shi'ites complain they have long been marginalized in political and economic life, a claim the government denies. Bahrain's Sunni rulers have rejected the protesters' main demand for an elected government.

Bahrain, a U.S. ally that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, reinstated its ambassador to Iran in August, more than a year after withdrawing the envoy following Tehran's criticism of its crackdown on Shi'ite protesters.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Janet Lawrence)