Sudan's Foreign Ministry says it has ordered the closure of the Iranian cultural centers, calling it a social and ideological threat to the largely Sunni country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Youssef al-Kordofani said Tuesday the Iranian cultural consular in Khartoum and the center's staff were given 72 hours to leave Sudan. His statement, carried by Sudan's official news agency, suggests Sudan is concerned over the spread of Shiite Islam in the largely Sunni country.

Shiite Iran has kept warm relations with the Sunni Islamist government of Sudan for years, including close military cooperation. Israel routinely accuses Iran of smuggling weapons to the Gaza Strip through Sudan.

It is not immediately clear what sparked Tuesday's announcement. But close relations with Tehran have strained Sudan's ties with Sunni Gulf countries.