UAE Urges Iran To End Gulf Islands Stand-Off

The UAE, angered by the president of Iran’s visit to a disputed Gulf island claimed by both countries, has urged the Islamic Republic to agree to talks or international arbitration.

Tensions between the two countries rose last week following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Abu Musa, one of three islands also claimed by the UAE.

“I call upon Iran to listen to voice of reason and put an end to the standoff whose repercussions could not be contained by either the UAE or Iran in future,” UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in comments published by the UAE’s state news agency.

“We in the UAE are serious to settle the dispute about the UAE Islands occupied by Iran,” he said.

Failure to resolve the dispute would leave “serious ramifications on the stability and security of the international community especially as 40 percent of the world’s energy goes through the channels of these islands,” Sheikh Abdullah added.

The UAE last week recalled its ambassador from Tehran and cancelled a friendly football match with Iran’s national team in response to what UAE government officials called a “flagrant violation” of the Gulf state’s sovereignty.

“His visit… is a flagrant violation of the UAE’s sovereignty over its territory and a transgression of efforts to find a peaceful settlement to end Iranian occupation of the three UAE islands,” said Sheikh Abdullah last week.

Ahmadinejad’s visit, the first trip by a head of state since Tehran took repossession of the island 41 years ago, also drew strong criticism from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, whose cabinet claimed the Iranian president had violated UAE sovereignty and was a “transgression of efforts towards a peaceful solution of the issue of the UAE islands”.

Iran gained control of Greater and Lesser Tunbs, Abu Musa in 1971 when the Persian state was ruled by its Western-backed Shah.

This coincided with the ending of the UAE’s status as a protectorate of the UK and the Gulf state’s independence.

The three islands are located in the approach to the Strait of Hormuz, through which around one-fifth of the world’s oil supply passes.