20 April 2012
TEHRAN (AFP)— Iran urged Bahrain on Friday to “end suppression and pay attention to its people’s demands,” ahead of the controversial Grand Prix race there, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Clashes between security forces and protesters left several people wounded across Bahrain’s Shiite villages ahead of the Formula 1 race, and authorities beefed up security for the first practice sessions on Friday.
“The most appropriate solution for Bahrain is to seriously pay attention to the demands of its people and end the suppression,” the deputy foreign minister in charge of Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amirabdolahian, was quoted as saying.
“Bahrain should pay serious attention to preparing the ground for effective and real talks” with the opposition, Amirabdolahian said after being asked why Bahrain insists on going ahead with the race while clashes have intensified.
Relations between predominantly Shiite Iran and Bahrain have been strained since last spring when the Sunni-dominated kingdom crushed pro-democracy protests led by members of the majority Shiite population.
Iran has repeatedly condemned the crackdown that followed in which a government commission said 35 people were killed.
Tehran’s relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain has soured again in recent days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa island in the Gulf, sparking a storm of protest from the United Arab Emirates, which claims the island, and its Gulf Arab allies.
Iran took control of the islands in 1971, when Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.
Abu Musa was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.
On April 17, GCC called the visit “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands.”