Maldives cuts diplomatic ties with Iran - InfoNews

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Maldives cuts diplomatic ties with Iran

May 17, 2016 - 2:09 PM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The government of the Maldives said Tuesday it has decided to sever 40-year-old diplomatic ties with Iran, saying the country's policies in the Middle East are detrimental to peace and security in the region.

The Maldives foreign ministry said in a statement that peace in the Middle East is also linked to the island nation's own peace, stability and security.

The decision by the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation, whose population of 341,000 is predominantly Sunni Muslim, reflects its increasing closeness to Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, the long-time rival of Shiite-dominated Iran. Last year, Saudi Arabia opened an embassy in the Maldives and has offered cash grants to the government and started negotiations on investments.

The Islamic Summit held last month in Turkey called on Iran to pursue a policy based on the principle of "good neighbourliness, non-interference in their domestic affairs, respect for their independence and territorial sovereignty, (and) resolving differences by peaceful means in accordance with OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and the UN Charters," the foreign ministry statement said.

"The Maldives calls on Iran to show more commitment and tangible results in implementing the recommendations of the OIC," it said.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after Iranians protesting the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric stormed Saudi diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad.

Currently the two countries are entangled in a row over the annual pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia known as the hajj. Iran has said it will not send its citizens to this year's hajj. citing safety concerns, after 464 of its pilgrims were killed in a stampede last year.

Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has made several trips to Saudi Arabia since assuming office in 2013 and the Maldives has also signed up with the Saudi-led 34-member Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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