Iran, Bahrain resolve differences after diplomatic spat

Iran MapTehran - The foreign ministers of Iran and Bahrain said Friday they have sorted out differences caused by a senior Iranian cleric's remarks, official news agency IRNA reported.

Ali-Akbar Nateq-Nouri, a conservative former speaker of the Iranian parliament, reportedly said earlier this month that Iran still had sovereignty over Bahrain - sparking a diplomatic crisis.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Bahrain's Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa held talks in Tehran on the issue.

"The heads of the two states themselves have taken the initiative in the case and their wise approach has directed bilateral ties onto the right track which is based on respect and sincerity," Mottaki told reporters.

Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa said that he had a message by Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa replying to an initial message by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the issue.

IRNA quoted the Bahraini foreign minister as saying that Manama considered the stance of the Iranian government as positive.

The Iranian foreign ministry Monday said the remarks by Nateq-Nouri, currently one of the advisers of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were misinterpreted.

The ministry said relations with Bahrain were based on mutual respect, especially respect for the sheikhdom's territorial integrity.

The island kingdom located in the Gulf off Iran was under Persian influence until the 18th century and later a British protectorate and gained full independence in 1971.

In 1996 the two states recalled their ambassadors after Manama blamed Teheran for violent unrest among the Shiite population in Bahrain.

Teheran at that time denied the charges and said the unrest was internally motivated. Ties were normalised following the 1997 Islamic summit in Teheran and upgraded to ambassador level in 1998. (dpa)