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Sun 22 Apr 2012 10:59 AM

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UAE hints it may take Iran to UN over spat

Emirati Minister suggests "international arbitration" over islands may be needed

UAE hints it may take Iran to UN over spat
Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
UAE hints it may take Iran to UN over spat
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently visited Abu Musa.

The UAE has hinted that it is prepared to take its spat with Iran over three disputed islands to the UN's International Court of Justice, if the Islamic Republic does not agree to diplomatic negotiations.

The country’s Minister of
State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, said the UAE would adopt
a new strategy for dealing with Iran regarding the sovereignty of the Arabian Gulf islands.

“The UAE stands ready to
risk its historic and legal facts and win or lose at the International Court of
Justice,” he said in comments published by UAE state news agency WAM.

“He who has such facts is supposed to accept international arbitration,” he
added. 

“We are following a
long-patience policy,” he said. “We will remain neighbours forever despite our
differences.”

Gargash’s comments following
several weeks after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s trip to Abu Musa,
the first time a head of state has visited the island since Tehran took control
of the island 41 years ago.

GCC foreign ministers
condemned the visit calling it a “provocative act and a flagrant violation of
the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands”.

The UAE has recalled its
ambassador from Tehran for consultations and also cancelled a friendly soccer
match with Iran's national team last week, in response to the visit.

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.

France and the US both
weighed into the row last week, reinterring their 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,” the US State Department said in a statement.

“France supports,
incidentally, the commitment expressed yesterday [Tuesday] by the GCC in favour
of stability in the region,” Bernard Valero, France’s Foreign Ministry
spokesperson told Kuwait state news agency KUNA.

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

Both countries now claim the
three islands.