ABU DHABI // The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced a visit by a delegation from Iran's Shura Council to three occupied islands in the Arabian Gulf.
"This is a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the UAE over its territory," the ministry said, according to the state news agency Wam.
"It undermines all efforts to find a peaceful solution to this issue through bilateral negotiations or through recourse to the International Court of Justice."
Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs have been occupied by Iran since it invaded on the eve of the UAE's creation in 1971.
The ministry said visits of Iranian officials to the islands "do not change the historical facts on the ground, or deny the existing fact that the islands are occupied by Iran".
The UAE, which has historical relations with Iran, is keen on strengthening those relations, but Iran's continued occupation would affect the security and stability in the region, the ministry added.
Yesterday's statement repeated the UAE's calls for the Iranian government "to cease continuous provocative violations and uncalled-for tension by resorting to settlement of the conflict through international law mechanisms, to pave the way for better relations in the region".
In February, the FNC condemned the proposed Iranian inspection tour, describing it as "provocative and dangerous".
The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union also denounced the plan and the visit was heavily criticised by the foreign ministry of Bahrain.
Ali Jassim, an FNC member from Umm Al Quwain, said in February that Iran's actions undermined its claims of being interested in such a solution.
The tour by the Shura Council followed a visit to Abu Musa in April last year by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president.
Mr Ahmadinejad inflamed tensions with a speech in which he insisted the Arabian Gulf should be called the Persian Gulf, and that the islands rightfully belonged to Iran.
After that visit, the UAE recalled its ambassador to Tehran and summoned the Iranian ambassador to the UAE to give him a letter of protest to pass on to his government.