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Tue 17 Apr 2012 09:07 PM

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GCC throws weight behind UAE over Abu Musa

Foreign ministers give full support for all measures to be taken to restore UAE's rights

GCC throws weight behind UAE over Abu Musa
Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council on Tuesday threw their weight behind the UAE in its dispute with Iran over the sovereignty of three Gulf islands.

They expressed their full support "for all measures" to be taken by the UAE to restore its rights to, and sovereignty over, the islands, including Abu Musa.

In a statement issued at the end of the 39th extraordinary meeting in Doha, the GCC ministerial council demanded Iran to end its occupation of these islands, state news agency WAM reported.

It also called on Tehran to respond to a call made by the UAE to find a "peaceful and just solution to the issue" either through bilateral negotiations or by taking it to the International Court of Justice.

Tensions rose last week following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Abu Musa.

"We cannot have this matter going on forever," UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told a news conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

"We have to have a clear agenda, a deadline for negotiations and if there is no outcome ... then we can either go to the International Court of Justice or to international arbitration."

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 what its officials called a "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty.

The visit by Ahmadinejad also drew criticism from regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, whose cabinet said on Monday that his trip had violated UAE sovereignty and was a "transgression of efforts towards a peaceful solution of the issue of the UAE islands", the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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