* Comments come ahead of meeting of six Gulf nations
* Gulf states accuse Iran of interfering in Bahrain
* Tehran has denied allegations of meddling
MANAMA, Dec 24 Saudi Arabia on Monday told
regional rival Iran to stop interfering in internal Gulf Arab
affairs and spreading "sedition", activities Tehran denies.
The comments, made by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud
al-Faisal, follow similar allegations levelled at Iran by the
kingdom in the past, and other Gulf states are likely to voice
similar complaints at a summit of the six-nation Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) that opens later on Monday.
"Interference to stir sedition is unacceptable from a
neighbour," Prince Saud was quoted as saying by the
London-based, Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat.
"This is not comfortable because it is trying to use the
circumstances to interfere."
Prince Saud was speaking in Bahrain, which is hosting the
annual summit of the leaders of the Saudi-led GCC, a group of
oil-exporting Gulf Arab countries that comprises Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
The newspaper did not elaborate on what the Saudi minister
meant by "circumstances", but the most common Gulf Arab
complaint about alleged Iranian interference in the region
relates to Bahrain, which has repeatedly accused Tehran of
meddling in its internal politics.
While not convulsed by unrest on the scale of Egypt or
Libya, Bahrain has been volatile since pro-democracy protests
led by its Shi'ite Muslim majority erupted last year.
Bahrain's Sunni Muslim rulers brought in Saudi and United
Arab Emirates forces last year to help quell the protests, and
Shi'ite power Iran condemned the move, saying it could lead to
regional instability. Bahrain has accused Iran of being behind
the unrest. Tehran denies this.
The two-day summit is also likely to hear fresh calls from
Gulf Arab leaders for an end to the violence in Syria and for
President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
The GCC in November recognised a newly-formed opposition
coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
In an interview on Bahrain television, GCC Secretary-General
Abdulatif al-Zayani said the summit would debate several matters
including the Syrian crisis, conflict in Yemen and "Iranian
Bahrain's Shi'ites complain they have long been marginalised
in political and economic life, an assertion the government
denies. Its Sunni rulers have rejected the protesters' main
demand for an elected government.
The GCC summit is expected to start at about 1300 GMT, with
speeches by heads of state or their representatives.