Sources: Iran, Kuwait at Loggerheads over US Military Presence in the Gulf
The US military presence in the Gulf region is straining relations between Iran and Kuwait, according to the Middle East Newsline (MENL), citing officials and diplomats.
Iranian officials said that Kuwait was trying to undermine Tehran's offer to improve ties with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members in exchange for their help in ending the US presence in the region.
The first target of Kuwait, the officials said, was the United Arab Emirates.
Last month, Iran was stunned by a declaration by Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah that called for the end of the Iranian "occupation" of three Arabian Gulf islands claimed by the UAE.
The Kuwaiti call came after a visit by the Emirati Foreign Minister Hamdan bin Zayed to Iran last month, in a first step toward reconciliation between Abu Dhabi and Tehran.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry source told MENL that Kuwait appeared to be opposed to Iran's efforts to forge links with the UAE. As a result, the source said, Kuwait was trying to snuff out Tehran's efforts by raising suspicions in the UAE.
According to the report, Arab diplomatic sources said Kuwait was alarmed by reports that Tehran had offered to withdraw from the islands in return for a GCC pledge to end any foreign military presence in the Gulf region. The target appeared to be the United States.
Kuwait regards the presence of US troops on its soil as vital for defense against Iraqi threats.
Kuwait and Iran reached an agreement last year over a dispute regarding oil exploitation in the Durra field in the Gulf. An exchange of official visits and cooperation agreements followed - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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