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'Kuwait orders Iran envoy to leave'

'Kuwait orders Iran envoy to leave'

Kuwaiti state news agency, KUNA, cited members of the Foreign Ministry saying they will close cultural and military missions and have also chose to pause any cooperative ventures involving joint committees for the foreseeable future.

Tensions between the two countries come after Kuwait convicted 23 men - one Iranian and the rest Kuwaiti - of spying for Iran and Hezbollah past year, after a cache of guns and explosives was found in a so-called "Abdali cell" in 2015.

"Under the pressure of Saudi interventionist policies, and the baseless accusation of Iranian interference ..."

The report added that Iran's Foreign Ministry informed the Kuwaiti envoy of the Islamic Republic's protest to the decision by Kuwait to reduce the number of Iranian diplomats in the country. ISNA also said Kuwait is allowing only four of 19 embassy staff to remain in the country.

Last month, the Kuwait's supreme court sentenced the suspected leader of the cell to life in jail and condemned 20 others to various prison terms.

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The action was taken after a Supreme Court ruling last month said "Iranian sides helped and supported the cell members", the Ministry said in a statement. They severed relations with energy-rich Qatar over accusations it is too close to Shia Iran and funds extremists-allegations denied by Doha. State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, who is also acting information minister, confirmed Kuwait had taken diplomatic action against Iran.

In August 2015, Kuwait said it had busted the 26-member cell and seized arms, ammunition and explosives from them.

Gulf power and Kuwait ally Saudi Arabia has been at loggerheads with Iran over a number of regional issues. There, security forces found weapons and explosives, believed to belong to infiltrators from Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

In a statement earlier this week, the ministry said 14 convicts had fled to Iran in a speedboat.

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