Iran, UAE said to be close to islands agreement

Countries may soon end long-running dispute over occupied islands in the Arabian Gulf
Iran, UAE said to be close to islands agreement
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, pictured centre.
By Staff writer
Wed 11 Dec 2013 01:41 PM

Iran and the UAE are reportedly close to reaching a deal on returning three Iranian-occupied islands in the Arabian Gulf to the UAE.

Sources cited by Defense News said a deal for the return of the strategic islands to the UAE was laid out during the recent visit of UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan to Tehran.

They added that a response was presented during last week’s return visit by his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif.

The report quoted Theodore Karasik, director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, as confirming that the two countries are on the verge of a breakthrough.

“Sheikh Abdullah’s visit to Tehran focused on the islands issue, and the Iranian side reacted positively,” he was quoted as saying.

It is understood that a workable agreement for the transfer of the islands to the UAE would see Iran retain the seabed rights.

In September, the Cooperation Council for Arab Gulf States (GCC) reiterated its firm position on rejecting Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.

The largest of the three Islands, Abu Musa, had been under the administration of the emirate of Sharjah, while the Greater and Lesser Tunbs belonged to the emirate of Ras al Khaimah, according to official UAE records.

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.

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