Tehran Rejects Bahrain’s Call to Bring Israel in from Cold

A02619903.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran rejected the Bahraini foreign minister’s call for a new regional grouping which would include Israel as well as Arab states, Iran and Turkey.

“With all due respect that I have for my dear brother Sheikh Khaled (bin Ahmad al-Khalifa) the foreign minister of Bahrain, I believe that this suggestion cannot be executed,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told an IRNA reporter in New York on Friday.

“Our Bahraini friends know where the real problem lies and why this (idea) cannot be implemented,” he added before leaving New York, where he attended the UN general assembly.

Mottaki dubbed Tehran’s regional arch foe as “an illegal regime with many claims, (which) still thinks of expansion and continuing occupation.”

“This regime is neither legitimate nor trustworthy,” he added.

The Bahraini chief diplomat unveiled his proposal for the creation of a regional bloc in an interview with pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat published on Wednesday.

“Israel, Iran, Turkey and Arab states should sit together in one organization,” he was quoted as saying.

The tiny Persian Gulf kingdom is a major ally of the United States and has a free trade agreement with Washington. It also hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

His comments were also not received so well back home, where lawmakers and opposition activists in Bahrain slammed them.

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa met Israeli officials during World Economic Forum summits in 2000 and 2003, while Sheikh Khaled met Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni at the United Nations last year.

However, political groupings in Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty and has a Shiite majority, oppose any normalization of ties with Israel

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