January 3, 2016 / 8:34 PM / 2 years ago

Saudi Arabia severs ties with Iran - minister

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir in Paris, France, December 15, 2015.Jacky Naegelen

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it had severed ties with Iran over the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, in a worsening diplomatic crisis between the regional rivals following the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference Iran's diplomatic mission and related entities in Saudi Arabia had been given 48 hours to leave. He said Riyadh would not allow the Islamic Republic to undermine the Sunni kingdom's security.

Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran early on Sunday and Shi'ite Muslim Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted "divine vengeance" for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the kingdom's ruling Al Saudi family.

Jubeir said the attack in Tehran was in line with what he said were earlier Iranian assaults on foreign embassies there and with Iranian policies of destabilising the region by creating "terrorist cells" in Saudi Arabia.

"The kingdom, in light of these realities, announces the cutting of diplomatic relations with Iran and requests the departure of delegates of diplomatic missions of the embassy and consulate and offices related to it within 48 hours. The ambassador has been summoned to notify them," he said.

Reporting by Angus McDowall in Riyadh, Omar Fahmy in Cairo and Hadeel al-Sayegh in Dubai, Writing by William Maclean; editing by Richard Balmforth

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