The government of the Maldives has decided to sever 40-year=old diplomatic ties with Iran, saying the country's policies in the Middle East are detrimental to peace and security in the region.

The Maldives foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday night that peace in the Middle East is also linked to the island nation's own peace, stability and security.

The decision by the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, whose population is predominantly Sunni Muslim, reflects its increasing closeness to Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, the long-time rival of Shiite-dominated Iran. Last year, Saudi Arabia opened an embassy in the Maldives.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after Iranians protesting the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric stormed Saudi diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad.