By Shane McGinley
Ministers urged Iran to respond attempts to solve the problem or refer matter to the courts
The Cooperation Council for Arab Gulf States (GCC) on Tuesday reiterated its firm position on rejecting Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.
The Foreign Ministers of the GCC six member states, in the final communique of their 128th ordinary meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, supported the UAE's full sovereignty over the three disputed islands, including their regional waters, airspace, continental shelf and their exclusive economic zone, as integral parts of the UAE, the WAM news agency reported.
The GCC Council ministers expressed deep regret that contacts with Iran in this regard have not produced positive results. They noted that solving this issue will contribute to the stability and security of the region.
They urged Iran to respond positively to the UAE endeavours to solve the problem either through direct negotiations or referring the issue to the International Court of Justice.
The ministers also expressed hopes that Hassan Rouhani's presidency of Iran would contribute to closer relations between the GCC and Iran based on the principles of good neighborhood, non-interference in the internal affairs of others, respect of the sovereignty of the region's countries and refraining from using force or threatening to use it.
The diplomatic tussle between the UAE and Iran intensified in April 2012 when former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made an official visit to the island of Abu Musa.
Ahmadinejad’s visit sparked a furious response from the UAE government, which has since carried naval drills in the waters surrounding the islands. The UAE has also said it is willing to take the dispute to international arbitration.
Other GCC governments support the UAE’s claim to sovereignty over the islands, with foreign powers including the US, France and Italy also backing the Gulf nation’s territorial claim.
In response, Iranian authorities have bolstered the Islamic Republic’s military presence on Abu Musa and insisted its ownership over the three islands is “non-negotiable”.