Reuters The United Arab Emirates criticised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit on Wednesday to a Gulf island claimed by both countries since the 1970s.
DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates criticised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit on Wednesday to a Gulf island claimed by both countries since the 1970s.
“His visit … is a flagrant violation of the United Arab Emirates’ sovereignty over its territory and a transgression of efforts to find a peaceful settlement to end Iranian occupation of the three UAE islands,” said Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, cited by state news agency WAM.
The Iranian state news agency IRNA said Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa island on Wednesday as part of a tour of Iran’s Gulf coast, but did not refer to the territorial dispute.
Both countries claim Abu Musa and two other small islands, located near key shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
The islands have been held by Iran since 1971, shortly before the seven Gulf emirates gained full independence from Britain and formed the UAE.
The UAE has urged Tehran to agree to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Iran says its sovereignty over the islands is not negotiable but has called for talks with the UAE to clear up “misunderstandings”. (Reporting By Nour Merza; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)