TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s president says the country wants closer ties with Bahrain during a visit by Bahrain’s foreign minister seen as an effort to patch up shaky relations.
Ties between the two countries were recently strained when a prominent Iranian cleric was quoted by Arab media as saying Bahrain was the 14th province of Iran until 1970.
The remark raised fears Iran still holds longtime claims to the island. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite but its Shiite majority has close ties to Iran.
The Friday report by Iran’s official news agency quotes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Iran respects the dignity of Bahrain and supports its progress.
Bahrain’s foreign minister was reported as saying relations with Iran are very important.