Maldives Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Iran

Maldives Cuts Diplomatic Ties With IranMaldives Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Iran

The government of Maldives said on Tuesday it has decided to sever 40-year-old diplomatic ties with Iran, claiming the Tehran's policies in the Middle East are detrimental to peace and security in the region. 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, AP reported.

The decision by the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation, whose population of 341,000 is predominantly Sunni Muslim, reflects its increasing closeness to Saudi Arabia, the long-time rival of Iran.

Maldives is a tiny island located 4,171 kilometers from 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 neighborliness, 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 Charter," the foreign ministry statement said.

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

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after Iranians protesting the illegal execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr stormed vacant Saudi diplomatic premises 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.