The US State Department has stepped into the diplomatic row between the UAE and Iran over three disputed islands, reiterating its support for peaceful negotiations.
“The United States... urges Iran to respond positively to the UAE’s initiative to resolve the issue through direct negotiations, the International Court of Justice or another appropriate international forum,” an official statement said.
GCC foreign ministers met in Qatar on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing dispute between the UAE and Iran following Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Abu Musa, one of three islands claimed by both countries.
The seven member council issued a joint statement condemning the visit as a “provocative act and a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands”.
Ahmadinejad’s trip to Abu Musa was the first time a head of state has visited the island since Tehran took control of the island 41 years ago.
The UAE has recalled its ambassador from Tehran for consultations and also cancelled a friendly soccer match with Iran's national team set for Tuesday, in response to the visit.
Iranian lawmakers claimed Ahmadinejad's April 11 trip to Abu Musa was part of a “provincial tour” of Iran, and called the stance of the UAE “a clear interference in Iran's domestic affairs and thus unacceptable and rejected,” according to a petition announced on Wednesday.
The declaration, signed by 225 of the 290 MPs in the chamber, claimed the ownership of the island is “non-negotiable”.
Iran, then ruled by the Western-backed Shah, gained control of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa in 1971, just before the UAE's status as a protectorate of the UK ended and the Gulf state became independent.
The three islands dominate the approach to the Strait of Hormuz, through which around one-fifth of the world’s oil supply passes.
Both countries now claim the three islands.