US steps into UAE-Iran island dispute

State Department urges positive response from Iran following Abu Musa row
Statue of liberty, US flag
By Claire Valdini
Wed 18 Apr 2012 02:54 PM

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.

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