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Kuwait shuts Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats: KUNA

Kuwait has reportedly told the Iranian Embassy to reduce its diplomatic staff in the Persian Gulf state and close down some of its technical offices following a court ruling last year that implicated some Iranians in a spying case.

Citing a Foreign Ministry source, Kuwait's official KUNA new agency reported Thursday that Kuwait City decided to freeze any activities involving joint committees between the two countries following the ruling by Kuwait's top court in a case known as the Abdali cell.

Media reports earlier in the day also said Kuwait had shut down the office of Iran's cultural attache and reduced the number of Iranian diplomats in the country.

According to Kuwaiti diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, the number of Iranian diplomats in Kuwait will be decreased from 14 to nine, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.

The Iranian diplomats will be granted 45 days to leave Kuwait, according to the report.

Reuters also quoted a Kuwaiti government official as saying on Thursday that Kuwait City has taken actions regarding its diplomatic relationship with Iran following the court ruling.

The government of the state of Kuwait decided 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, following the court ruling, acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah said.

In August 2015, Kuwait said it had busted the 26-member cell and seized arms, ammunition and explosives from them.

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. The defendants were also charged with possessing weapons, smuggling explosives, and planning "hostile actions" inside Kuwait.

They received sentences ranging from a few years in prison to, in one case, the death penalty, though the latter sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.

The defendants were later acquitted on appeals and set free. Kuwait's supreme court, however, overturned their acquittal and sentenced them to between five and 15 years in prison.

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyassah reported recently that 14 of the cell's 26 members had fled to Iran by sea. Kuwait's interior ministry also confirmed that the 14 men were on the run.

Iran summons Kuwait's envoy over diplomatic row

Later on Thursday, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned Kuwait's charge d'affaires in Tehran for some explanations.

According to IRNA, the summoning came following Kuwait's decision to expel Iranian diplomats and telling the Iranian embassy in Kuwait City to close down some of its technical offices.

The report added that Iran's Foreign Ministry informed the Kuwaiti envoy of the Islamic Republic's protest to the decision by Kuwait to reduce the number of Iranian diplomats in the country.

Meanwhile, Bahram Qassemi, the spokesman of Iran's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on his Telegram channel on Thursday that an unnamed Foreign Ministry official had conveyed Tehran's vehement protest to the Kuwaiti charge d'affaires while rejecting charges leveled against Iranian diplomats by the government of Kuwait.

It is very regrettable that under the existing sensitive conditions in the region, instead of trying to reduce unjustified tensions and showing self-restraint in the face of pressures and incitements by adventurist parties in the region, Kuwaiti officials have answered those incitements and made the Islamic Republic of Iran target of their fictitious accusations, Qassemi added.

He noted that the Iranian Foreign Ministry official had reminded the Kuwaiti diplomat that the Islamic Republic of Iran had always behaved responsibly toward all regional countries and reserved the right to take reciprocal measures in the face of expulsion of its diplomats from Kuwait.

According to Qassemi, the Kuwaiti charge d'affaires had regretted the current state of affairs, noting that he would convey Iran's views to his country's official as soon as possible.

Source: Press TV

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