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Apr 16 2012

GCC to discuss Ahmadinejad's Abu Musa visit

By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold an emergency meeting in Doha tomorrow to discuss key regional developments including Iran following a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Musa last week.

"The meeting will take stock of the situation and discuss the provocative measures adopted by Tehran that has sparked a diplomatic standoff between the UAE and Iran," said GCC General Secretariat spokesman Saleem A. A. Al-Alwi yesterday.

"This will be an extraordinary meeting of the GCC foreign ministers who will assemble primarily to discuss Iran and show solidarity with the UAE," said Al-Alwi. He said the meeting had been called by the UAE, which recalled its ambassador from Tehran on Wednesday after Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa and claimed Iranian sovereignty over the island. The UAE has had claims on Abu Musa for a long time and considers Abu Musa and two other islands -- the Greater and Lesser Tunbs -- part of its territory.

Abu Dhabi has also lodged a protest with the United Nations over Ahmadinejad's visit, stressing that the territorial dispute should be resolved through negotiations or the International Court of Justice. The UAE has urged Tehran several times to hold negotiations over the islands, but Iran has refused to do so. Iran, the spokesman said, has opened up another chapter of confrontation when it is already facing international pressure over its nuclear program.

In a statement released yesterday, the GCC strongly condemned Iran's move, calling the Iranian president's visit "a violation of UAE sovereignty." The GCC denounced Ahmadinejad's visit to Abu Musa and said it was "an irresponsible provocation and not in line with the GCC policy of maintaining good neighborly relations with Iran." Tehran should refrain from interfering in the affairs of the GCC, it added.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has blasted Ahmadinejad's Abu Musa visit as a "flagrant violation of the UAE sovereignty." The Arab Group at the United Nations has supported the UAE and condemned the Iranian president's visit to the island, which has been occupied by Iranian troops since 1971. The group, represented by Arab member states at the UN, made a statement after a meeting chaired by UAE's permanent representative to UN Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-Jaramain on Friday.

"The Arab Group condemns this unfortunate and unjustified action by the Iranian president, as it represents a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UAE and the principles of the UN Charter and international law," said the statement. The visit also demonstrates Iran's blatant disregard of the UAE's efforts and endeavors to resolve this issue by peaceful means, it added.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and Africa Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Ahmadinejad's visit to Abu Musa was an "internal affair" and asserted that Abu Musa and the two other islands "have always belonged to Iran and will remain so." Abu Musa is a 12 sq km island near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz and close to the UAE. It is part of a six-island archipelago including Greater and Lesser Tunbs. Negotiations between the UAE and Iran to resolve the dispute failed in 1992.

© Arab News 2012


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