Kuwait downgrades ties with Iran over 'terror plot'

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.

State news agency Kuna reported on Thursday that the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry had asked Iran to shut down its cultural mission in the country.

"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", acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah said in a separate statement.

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Last month, Kuwait's supreme court sentenced the cell's mastermind to life in prison and 20 others to various prison term over alleged links with Iran and Hizballah.

"Following the supreme court ruling on the case ... the government of Kuwait has chose to take measures, in accordance with diplomatic norms and the Vienna Convention, towards its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran", said al-Sabah added. "Alireza Enayati, the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait, must leave within 48 days", the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) said.

The tensions with Shiite Iran comes as Kuwait is trying to mediate a widening row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

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The official offered no further details and Iran has denied any involvement in the cell or the case. Kuwait's interior ministry also confirmed that the 14 men were on the run.

Kuwait has maintained good ties with Iran despite pressure from regional power Saudi Arabia to cut ties with Tehran. Kuwait has not imposed sanctions on Qatar and has positioned itself as a neutral party in the crisis.

"The government of the state of Kuwait chose 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", acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah said in a separate statement.

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Kuwaiti courts convicted members of the so-called "Abdali cell" of working for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement.


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