The Latest: Iran says Saudis must choose hatred or stability

The Latest: Iran says Saudis must choose hatred or stability

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The latest developments after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Tehran amid a dispute over Riyadh's execution of an opposition Shiite cleric and attacks on Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran. (All times local).

10:30 p.m.

Iran's foreign minister says Saudi Arabia has to make "a crucial choice" — either continue supporting extremists and promoting sectarian hatred or promote good neighborliness and regional stability.

Javad Zarif said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon obtained Friday by The Associated Press that Iran has "no desire or interest in escalation of tension in our neighborhood" and hopes Saudi Arabia will "heed the cause of reason."

Zarif said that from the first days of President Hassan Rouhani's election, both he and the president have sent public and private signals to Saudi Arabia "about our readiness to engage in dialogue and accommodation to promote regional stability and combat destabilizing extremist violence."

But he accused the Saudis of trying to prevent or defeat the nuclear deal reached in July.


6:10 p.m.

A protest by hundreds of Bahrain's majority Shiites marching to denounce Saudi Arabia for its execution last week of a leading Shiite cleric has descended into violence.

The protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in the town of Sitra, south of the Bahraini capital of Manama, chanting slogans against the government, which is allied with Saudi Arabia's Sunni monarchy.

They also carried posters of the executed sheikh, Nimr al-Nimr. Police fired tear gas and birdshot while protesters threw Molotov cocktails as they tried to reach a main highway.

The Sunni-ruled Bahrain, which sided with Saudi Arabia in the kingdom's spat with Iran that erupted after al-Nimr's execution, has cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.


3:40 p.m.

Iranians have rallied against Saudi Arabia to protest the kingdom putting to death Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an execution that sparked regional protests and tensions.

Thousands of worshippers who took part in Friday prayers in Tehran joined the rally, carrying pictures of al-Nimr and chanting "Death to Al Saud," referencing the kingdom's royal family.

Iranian state media reported similar protests taking place in other Iranian cities and towns.

Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran on Sunday after crowds of protesters attacked two of its diplomatic posts in Iran. Those attacks came after Saudi Arabia executed al-Nimr on Jan. 2.

The escalating tensions between the two adversaries may imperil efforts to end the wars gripping Syria and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and Iran back rival sides.

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