Iran accuses Saudi of stoking regional tension

2016-01-04 11:25
Iranian demonstrators burn US and Israeli flags during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran. (Vahid Salemi, AP)

Iranian demonstrators burn US and Israeli flags during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran. (Vahid Salemi, AP)

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Tehran - Iran's foreign ministry on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of stoking regional tension after the kingdom broke off diplomatic relations and said Iranian embassy staff had to leave in the next 24 hours.

"Saudi Arabia sees not only its interests but also its existence in pursuing crises and confrontations and attempts to resolve its internal problems by exporting them to the outside," said ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaber Ansari.

Saudi Arabia announced its response a day after its embassy in Tehran was firebombed by an angry mob and its interior destroyed.

"What happened in regard to diplomatic missions...it is not the first time such a thing happens worldwide," Ansari said.

By severing diplomatic relations, Saudi Arabia is "continuing the policy of increasing tension and clashes in the region" Ansari said.

Countries clashed

His remarks came the morning after Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced diplomatic ties had been cut, giving the Iranian diplomats 48 hours notice to leave.

Jubeir did so after the two countries clashed over the kingdom's execution on Saturday of a Shi'ite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, an act that Iran's supreme leader said would be met with "divine revenge".

The oil-rich rivals have also been divided over the nearly five-year war in Syria, where Iran is backing the regime and the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shi'ite rebels.

Ansari, who said that the Iranian diplomats had not yet left Riyadh, insisted Iran had always protected diplomatic missions to ensure the safety of diplomats and dealt with transgressions.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had on Sunday condemned the violence at the embassy as "totally unjustifiable" and judicial officials said 44 arrests had been made.

Read more on:    saudi arabia  |  iran

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