Manama: Bahrain has lodged a protest over statements by the Iranian parliament speaker and a lawmaker to integrate Bahrain into Iran.

"We strongly condemn the statements by Speaker Ali Larijani and lawmaker Hossein Ali Shahriari over Bahrain and we consider them blatant interference in Bahrain's domestic affairs and a gross violation of its independence and sovereignty," the foreign ministry said. The Iranian charge d'affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry to be handed the protest.

On Monday, hours before the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders held their 14th advisory summit amid reports that there would be steps towards a union between at least three of the six members, Larijani said that Bahrain "is not a bite to be easily swallowed."

Addressing the parliament, MP Shahriari claimed that "if anything new happened in connection with Bahrain, it would be Iran's right to decide about Bahrain."

Larijani agreed, saying that "if Bahrain is supposed to be integrated into another country, it must be Iran," the Iranian news agency, Irna, reported.

However, Bahrain's foreign ministry said that the statements were against international relations standards.

"Such statements are a violation of the United Nations charter and the international laws that govern relations between states. They also clash with the objectives and principles of the Orgnisation of Islamic Cooperation and the international conventions that stipulate the non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries," the ministry said.

The statement called upon Iran to put an end to statements that harm relations between neighbours and affect security and stability in the region.

The lower chamber of the bicameral parliament said that it rejected "the antagonistic statements that undermined the security and stability of the Arabian Gulf, in general, and Bahrain, in particular."

"These statements are a distortion of the facts and a continuation of the Iranian irresponsible and illogical methods to fuel divisions between the citizens of the Arabian Gulf states and to use extremist and terrorist media to incite the people," the lawmakers said. "Joining the Gulf union is the right step towards achieving stability and the region's economic development and confronting expansionist schemes."

The Shura Council, the upper chamber, said that it refused the "irresponsible statements that fuelled sectarian strife and divisions and caused tension and instability in the region."

"Iran and its constitutional institutions should respect the sovereignty of other countries, end their interference and work on building bridges of trust and cooperation in order to preserve the security and stability of the countries in the region," the council said in a statement.

Relations between Manama and Tehran are at their lowest level after Bahrain accused Iran of flagrant interference in its domestic affairs. Neither country now has an ambassador in the other country's capital.