Turkey, Iran block rival countries from participation in U.N. disarmament talks

Turkey and Iran on Tuesday blocked rival countries from talks aimed at overcoming a years-long deadlock over disarmament at the United Nations, Reuters reported, in a move that has sparked concern about the forum's future.

Turkey blocked Cyprus while Iran blocked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from joining as observers in a significant departure from normal U.N. protocol, it said.

Cyprus, which has long been at odds with Turkey over a string of issues, including hydrocarbon resources in the east Mediterranean and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), expressed "deep regret" at Turkey's decision, Reuters reported.

"It is a sign that the Conference on Disarmament is at a crossroads and if it wants to remain relevant and useful it has to do some soul-searching," Marc Finaud, former diplomat and security expert at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, said.

Britain, the United States, European Union and India condemned the blockages, according to Reuters.