Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror links'

Kuwait shuts Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats: KUNA

Iran's foreign ministry has summoned Kuwait's charge d'affaires after the Gulf state closed the Iranian cultural, military and trade offices and ordered the number of Iranian diplomats there to be cut amid a spying row, the semi-official news agency Fars reported on Thursday.

Kuwaiti officials maintained the plot was meant to destabilize Kuwait by creating dissention in Shi'ite communities within the predominantly Sunni country.

Kuwait's move came following a court ruling previous year that implicated some Iranians in a spying case, known as the "Abdali cell". ISNA also said Kuwait is allowing only four of 19 embassy staff to remain in the country.

He urged the regional states to maintain friendly relations with Iran because they "need it".

Kuwaiti judiciary had earlier charged 25 of its Shia nationals and an Iranian with spying for Tehran and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

A Kuwaiti supreme court ruling last month convicted 21 people of belonging to a cell that had been formed and trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "Alireza Enayati, the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait, must leave within 45 days", the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) said.

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. State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, who is also acting information minister, confirmed Kuwait had taken diplomatic action against Iran. The leader of the cell was handed life in prison sentence while 20 others received various prison terms.

In a separate statement, acting Information Minister for Kuwait, Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah, stated that: "The government of the state of Kuwait made a decision to take actions in accordance with diplomatic norms and in abidance with the Vienna conventions with regards to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran". Iran reserves the right to a reciprocal measure, said the foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi in a statement on his Telegram channel.

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