Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has already held talks with several leading figures of the two denominations after members of both camps appeared to have ignited sectarian tensions in the tiny emirate. 

Shaikh Sabah will meet a delegation from the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to discuss the flare-up in communal tension. 

"The premier affirmed that every citizen is free to practise his religious rituals ... provided they do not breach the law," Ayat Allah Muhammad Baqir al-Mahri said in a statement on Saturday after meeting Shaikh Sabah last week. 

Mahri, head of the Shia Clerics' Congregation, called on "Sunnis and Shia to unite and exchange visits in the interest of Islam and our beloved nation." 

Consultations planned

Shaikh Sabah, Kuwait's strongman who was appointed prime minister after last July's polls, is planning more consultations with other groupings functioning like political parties, which are outlawed in the emirate. 

Minority Shia make up about one third of Kuwait's population of 900,000. Their ancestors hailed from Iran, Iraq and Saudi
Arabia. 

But they have only five members in the 50-seat parliament
elected last July, down from six in the previous parliament. 

They also have one post in the emirate's 16-member cabinet, that of Muhammad Abd al-Hasan, who holds the important information portfolio and has been the target of attacks by Sunni Islamists. 

Encouraged by events 

"The premier affirmed that every citizen is free to practise his religious rituals ... provided they do not breach the law"

Ayat Allah Muhammad Baqir al-Mahri, Head of the Shia Clerics' Congregation

Kuwaiti Shia have been encouraged by events in neighbouring Iraq where the power of the Shia is on the ascendant after years of persecution and oppression under the rule of Saddam Hussein. 

Liberal writers, however, urged the prime minister to enforce the law
against those fuelling sectarianism. 

"The prime minister has the constitution and several laws to
safeguard society. No one would blame him if he performed his duty," Saud al-Samaka wrote in his column in al-Qabas.