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Thu 3 May 2012 03:22 PM

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UAE-France war games ‘nothing to do with Iran’

Joint military drills not related to ongoing territorial dispute with Iran, says UAE

UAE-France war games ‘nothing to do with Iran’
More than 4,500 personnel took part in the drills.

A senior official in the UAE’s military has said that recent
war games held jointly with France were not related to ongoing political
tensions with Iran.

The two countries concluded a fortnight of military drills this week, which came amid a diplomatic tussle
between the UAE and Iran over territorial claims to three islands.

 “There is no relation
or link between military training taking place and political events, swings, or
instability in the region”, said Major-General Pilot Rashad Salem al-Saadi,
head of the UAE Joint Command and Staff College.

More than 4,500 personnel took part in the drills, which
have been previously held in 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2008.

The spat between the UAE and Iran began in early April following Iranian
president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s official visit to the island of Abu Musa, which
along with Greater and Lesser Tunbs, is claimed by both the UAE and Iran.

Ahmadinejad’s visit sparked a furious response from the UAE’s 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”.