Iranian media say Bahrain emir welcomes invitation
TEHRAN, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Iranian media reported on Wednesday that
Bahrain's emir had welcomed an invitation to visit Iran, a country once
accused by Bahrain of trying to fan unrest in the Gulf Arab state.
Iranian newspapers said Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said he
hoped to accept the invitation from Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
as soon as he could.
The invitation was conveyed to the Bahraini emir during a visit to Manama
by the deputy minister for Arab-African affairs, Mohammad Sadr, in a written
message from Khatami, the newspapers said.
Sadr's visit follows one by Bahrain's foreign minister in May and comes
amid a growing rapprochement between non-Arab Iran and Gulf Arab states.
The Sunni Moslem leaders of Bahrain have accused Iran of encouraging
unrest among the Shi'ite majority in the Gulf Arab state but the two countries
have taken steps to normalise relations in recent months.
Iranian newspapers quoted Sadr as saying the bid for closer ties was
part of Khatami's programme of expanding regional and bilateral relations.
``Apart from the people of Iran and Bahrain, all the countries and people
of the region will benefit from the good and ever-growing ties between
the two countries,'' Sadr said.