ABU DHABI // Iran has vowed to boycott a meeting of Islamic parliamentary leaders in the capital over a proposal by the UAE to create a committee to resolve disputes between Muslim nations.
The decision was greeted with disbelief by UAE politicians who said they would press on with the proposal despite Iran’s attempt to derail it.
Kazem Jalali, the spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s commission on national security and foreign policy, was quoted by the state news agency IRINN as saying that his country would not participate in tomorrow’s meeting because it was “organised illegally”.
The meeting is to discuss Sudan, which last week concluded a referendum on secession that is likely to result in a split between the predominantly Muslim north and the largely Christian and animist south, as well as the protection of Christian minorities in Muslim lands.
But the proposal of a conflict committee, that would discuss more than 200 conflicts throughout the Muslim world, has led to Iran’s withdrawal from the meeting.
“Whatever decision is made by the extraordinary meeting in the UAE against Islamic unity will be unacceptable [to Iran] and non-implementable,” Mr Jalali told IRINN. “Unfortunately some Arab countries are attempting to bring marginal and preposterous matters to the forefront. We consider such attempts as plans totally motivated by the US, Israel and Britain and hope that Islamic countries seriously react to such attempts.”
Some delegates said Iran was seeking to silence efforts to highlight its occupation of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands.
But UAE officials insisted that the conflict resolution body would have a broader mandate and that its decisions would not be legally binding.
“This committee was not created for the islands,” said Yousef al Neaimi, a Federal National Council member and head of the UAE delegation.
“[The committee] was interpreted as being supported by America, Britain and Israel,” said Mr al Neaimi. “Our only concern as Muslim countries is to solve our problems.”
He said the UAE was “disappointed” and “surprised” at the Iranian decision, but maintained that relationships with the Islamic Republic were strong because the countries were neighbours and enjoyed a long-standing trade relationship.
UAE officials believe they have the necessary 34 votes out of 51 member nations to pass the resolution.
In June, Mr Jalali walked out of an executive committee session in protest at the proposal.
The proposal to create the committee was first made at a Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Conference meeting in Kempala last year. It was then passed on, with the support of Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, to the union’s 10-member executive committee, which is now headed by the UAE. It was then approved by the executive committee in October and will be put to a final vote this week.
Iran occupied the Tunbs on the eve of the UAE’s independence in 1971.
It has repeatedly rejected calls by the UAE for international arbitration or direct negotiations to resolve the dispute.
* With additional reporting by Maryam Sinaiee from Tehran
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