MANAMA (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to visit key US ally Bahrain amid tensions between the Gulf neighbours over Iran's controversial nuclear programme, a senior Bahraini official said on Tuesday.
"President Ahmadinejad will visit Bahrain after attending the OPEC summit," taking place November 17-18 in Saudi Arabia, the official told AFP, declining to be named.
Bahrain hosts the US Fifth Fleet tasked with securing the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the world's oil supplies must pass.
The tiny Sunni Muslim-ruled country has a Shiite majority, the same branch of Islam that dominates in Iran.
The two neighbours have had strained ties which were exacerbated in July after an Iranian newspaper article claimed Bahrain belonged to Iran.
At the time Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki flew to Bahrain to smooth over the tension, with reassurances that Iran respects Bahrain's sovereignty.
But Bahrain's crown prince last week openly accused Iran of lying about its controversial nuclear drive.
In interviews with British newspapers, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said: "While they don't have the bomb yet, they are developing it, or the capability for it."
But Sheikh Salman also called for a diplomatic solution to Iran's row with the West over its nuclear ambitions.
Iran, which is facing UN sanctions over its nuclear drive, has staunchly denied that it is developing atomic weapons, and there was no confirmation from Tehran of Ahmadinejad's visit.
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