France weighs in on UAE islands spat

Statement from France over Iranian claim to Gulf islands follows similar one from US
France weighs in on UAE islands spat
By Claire Valdini
Thu 19 Apr 2012 03:42 PM

France has entered the escalating diplomatic row between the UAE and Iran over three disputed islands in the Arabian Gulf, calling for a peaceful settlement between the two countries.

Speaking to Kuwait state news agency KUNA, Bernard Valero, France’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said: “We call on Iran to play a constructive role to favour a peaceful, fair settlement of this question while respecting international law and the UN Charter. 

“France supports, incidentally, the commitment expressed yesterday [Tuesday] by the GCC in favour of stability in the region.”

Valero’s statement came hours after the US State Department reiterated 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 possession 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 that was supposed to have taken place on Tuesday.

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, said the ownership of the island is “non-negotiable”.

Iran, then ruled by the Western-backed Shah, gained control of Greater and Lesser Tunbs, 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.

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