'If matters reached an unacceptable level then it is our right to protect our citizens', Saudi minister says
A Saudi minister urged Iran on Monday to protect its diplomats in the Islamic republic and threatened unspecified measures if it failed to do so.
Iranian students demonstrated outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran last Monday, protesting against the Gulf Arab state's role in Bahrain, media reports said. Last month, Iranian protesters broke windows at a Saudi consulate in Mashhad.
"We hope that these continuous violations will not lead us to take other positions," Saudi deputy foreign minister Prince Turki bin Saud Al Kabeer was quoted as saying by the newspaper Al Watan.
"We hope not to resort to other measures, However if matters reached an unacceptable level then it is our right to protect our citizens," he added.
Kabeer did not say what the measures might be. Asked if they would include withdrawing the Saudi diplomatic mission from Iran, he said Riyadh had not considered that option and he hoped matters would not reach that level.
Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, who met in Riyadh late on Sunday, called on the UN Security Council to stop what they called Iranian provocation and interference in the Gulf Arab region.
"[The GCC] calls the international community and the Security Council... to take the necessary procedures to stop the interference, provocations and threats from Iran, which aims to ignite rumours and destabilise GCC countries," a statement issued by the six-member GCC said.
Tension between Sunni-led Gulf Arab states and Iran intensified after Bahrain's majority began street protests in February against the government, inspired by popular uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.
Bahrain's rulers crushed the protests last month, deploying security forces throughout the capital and calling in troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Bahrain uprising unnerved neighbouring countries, particularly Saudi Arabia which feared protests might spread and embolden its own citizens in the oil-producing Eastern Province.