Iran Ministry Cancels Saudi Trip Over Executions, Mehr Says
The Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, was scheduled to travel to Jeddah and meet with top Saudi Arabia officials yesterday including Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, the state-run Mehr reported, without saying where it got the information. He planned to invite Saud to a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement to be held in Tehran in August, Mehr said.
The executions may exacerbate tensions between the two countries over recent months. Saudi Arabia has said it perceives Iran’s nuclear program as a threat, while Iran has condemned the kingdom’s military intervention in Bahrain. U.S. officials have said Iran backed a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires earlier this week to protest the execution of the prisoners, who had been detained five years ago, the state-run Press TV news channel reported. Iranian officials say they were not given consular access and weren’t provided with lawyers or translators. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran two days ago that the Saudi move would have “political repercussions.”
Saudi Arabia, which holds 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves, enforces restrictions interpreted from the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. The kingdom usually beheads or sentences people to lashings for murder, rape and drug-smuggling, and has been criticized by international human rights groups.
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