MANAMA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa Thursday confirmed that his country has suspended negotiations with Iran on a natural gas import deal, due to Iranian officials' recent claims of Bahrain as a province of Iran.
Such remarks were an "infringement of sovereignty," al-Khalifa told reporters in Bahrain's capital after meeting with his counterparts of Turkey and Russia.
"We will never accept distortion of historical facts about the history of the Kingdom of Bahrain," he said, adding the Gulf Arab kingdom was hurt by such remarks.
He confirmed that Bahrain has halted its current talks with Iran on the gas imports deal.
Arab media reported last week that Iranian Supreme Leader's advisor Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri has said that "Bahrain was the 14th province of Iran until 1970."
A number of other Iranian officials have also reportedly claimed that Bahrain was an integral part of the Islamic republic and questioned its Arabic identity.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry appeared to clarify its official stance.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said this week that "Iran-Bahrain relations have always been upon mutual respect to their sovereignty, which would never be affected by insignificant issues."
He said a number of media did not reflect correctly the statement by Nateq-Nouri and that certain officials also "interpreted the statement in an unusual manner."
Iranian officials' sovereignty claim has drawn criticism from Kuwait and Arab organizations.
In its weekly meeting, the Kuwaiti cabinet on Monday expressed its dismay over the "negative" remarks, which "hinder efforts exerted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its sincere desire to build a relationship of friendship and cooperation with Iran," according to the official KUNA news agency.
Bahrain was a British protectorate after 1861, and became independent in 1971. In its ancient history, the Gulf country has brought rule and influence from many foreign nations which included Persians, due to its strategic location.