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Iran escalates diplomatic row with Bahrain

Iran escalates diplomatic row with Bahrain
Bahraini anti-government protesters demonstrate in Manama, Bahrain on March 18, 2011 . Thousands of Bahrainis gathered for the funeral of the demonstrator slain hours after the king declared martial law in response to a month of escalating protests. Shiites account for 70 percent of the tiny island's half-million people but they are widely excluded from high-level posts and positions in the police and military. UPI\Isa Ebrahim | License Photo

TEHRAN, March 20 (UPI) -- Iran Sunday demanded a Bahraini diplomat leave the country, responding to a similar diplomatic move made by the Persian Gulf island state.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Bahrain's charge d'affaires in Tehran, and told him one Bahraini diplomat in Iran must go, spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the government-supported Press TV.

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The demand came after Bahrain asked an Iranian diplomat to leave Manama, a step Mehmanparast called "illogical and incomprehensible."

Addressing Bahrain's Sunni monarchy's battles with the Shiite majority, he said, "Responding to the people's legitimate demands will ensure stability and sustainability of governments, whereas cracking down on peaceful protests and seeking to divert public attention and resorting to other unjustified measures will only make the situation worse and cause deeper wounds."

The Bahraini royal family has declared a state of emergency and called in military forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help suppress recent protests.

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