April 10, 2011 / 7:13 AM / in 9 years

Iran expels 3 Kuwait diplomats in spy row

KUWAIT/TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has expelled three Kuwaiti diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after the Gulf emirate said it would throw out three Iranian diplomats in a row over spy allegations, a Kuwaiti official said on Sunday.

“Iran has expelled three Kuwaiti diplomats, and they were given 10 days to leave,” Khaled al-Jarallah, the undersecretary of Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters on Sunday.

The move comes after Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats this month, Jarallah said.

Kuwait’s foreign minister said on March 31 three Iranian diplomats should be expelled in retaliation for what Kuwait says was an Iranian spy ring there. Press TV said the expulsions took place on April 2.

Last month, a Kuwaiti court sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death for being part of an alleged Iranian spy ring in a case that has strained relations between Kuwait and Tehran.

Kuwaiti media said in May 2010 that authorities had detained a number of people, Kuwaitis and foreigners, suspected of spying for Iran. Media reports said they were accused of gathering information on Kuwaiti and U.S. military sites for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Iran’s relations with its U.S.-allied Gulf Arab neighbours, who offer various facilities to U.S. forces, have soured since popular uprisings were suppressed by government forces.

The Arab states have accused Iran of interfering in their affairs after Tehran objected to the dispatch of Saudi troops to help Bahrain put down protests.

Iran has denied the spying charge and says it avoids interference in other countries’ domestic issues.

Gulf Arab countries are concerned over what they see as the ambition of Iran, a non-Arab Shi’ite Muslim power, to extend its influence in Arab countries mostly under Sunni rule.

Reporting by Eman Goma; Writing by Mitra Amiri in Tehran; Editing by Jon Hemming

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