Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bilateral Relations: UAE repeats claim to disputed islands

The United Arab Emirates has again asserted its claim to three Gulf islands it says are occupied by Iran, and proposed direct talks to resolve the problem, the official WAM news agency reported. Iran gained control of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa after British forces left the Gulf in 1971. The three islands control access to the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the UAE.

The renewed claim, made by UAE President H H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, comes ahead of Monday’s two-day summit in Doha, Qatar, of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will also attend the gathering of the GCC – comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – the first time an Iranian leader has been invited to do so.

The official WAM quoted Shekikh Khalifa as saying the islands “of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa... are an integral part of our state. We will spare no effort in retrieving them and we demand that they be returned to our national sovereignty".