The Maldives has cut ties with Iran, becoming the latest Sunni Muslim country to join Saudi Arabia in diplomatic action against the kingdom’s Shia-majority neighbour.
The foreign ministry, in a statement on Tuesday, said Iran pursues policies that are “detrimental to peace and security in the [Middle East and Arab Gulf] region, which in many ways, is also linked to stability, peace and security of the Maldives.”
Saudi Arabia, whose influence is growing in the Maldives, had severed ties with Iran in January after Iranian protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran.
The protest was prompted by the kingdom’s execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
Bahrain, Sudan and Djibouti followed suit, while Kuwait and Qatar recalled their envoys to Iran. The United Arab Emirates also downgraded diplomatic relations.
The Maldives foreign ministry said: “The Islamic Summit held last month in Turkey called on Iran to pursue a policy based on the principle of ‘good neighbourliness, non-interference in their domestic affairs, respect for their independence and territorial sovereignty, [and] resolving differences by peaceful means in accordance with OIC and the UN Charters.’
“The Maldives calls on Iran to show more commitment and tangible results in implementing the recommendations of the OIC.”
The new Ambassador of Iran to the Maldives, Mohammed Zaeri Amirani, only presented his credentials to President Abdulla Yameen last month.
The president’s office said Yameen had “expressed his hope and confidence that relations between the Maldives and Iran would continue to strengthen in the future.”
The pair reportedly held discussions on importing refined oil from Iran.
Since assuming office in November 2013, Yameen has fostered closer ties with Saudi Arabia and China.
Saudi Arabia established a diplomatic mission in the Maldives for the first time in August. The kingdom also granted US$20 million for budget support last year, and agreed to provide a US$80 million loan for the development of a an urban centre on the artificial island of Hulhumalé.
It recently pledged US$50million for a housing project for the Maldives military. The Maldives is also seeking US$100million from the kingdom for an airport development project.
The Maldives is also among 34 countries that have joined a Saudi-led Islamic military alliance formed to combat terrorist organisations.