x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

FNC seeks talks over Ahmadinejad's Abu Musa visit

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Abu Musa caused outrage in the UAE and the wider region, with an FNC member calling for an emergency private session with the Foreign Minister.

An FNC member has called for an emergency private session with the Foreign Minister to discuss the Iranian president's provocative visit to Abu Musa.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the island on Wednesday, making a speech in which he insisted the Gulf should be called the Persian Gulf.

His visit and remarks caused outrage in the UAE and wider region, with the Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the FNC, the GCC and the Arab Group in the UN all denouncing the trip and comments as a flagrant violation of the UAE's sovereignty.

The UAE has repeatedly upheld its sovereignty over Abu Musa, along with Greater and Lesser Tunb, since Iran invaded the islands on the eve of the UAE's foundation in 1971.

Yesterday, Dr Abdulrahim Al Shahin, an FNC member from Ras Al Khaimah, said Mr Ahmadinejad's visit violated a bilateral agreement to not escalate the matter.

He said Emiratis, and the GCC as a whole, expected a lot from an emergency GCC meeting in Doha on Tuesday.

"Expectations have been set high as Emiratis and citizens of the Gulf await either for ambassadors [to Tehran] to be pulled out, or to lessen diplomatic ties with the country," Dr Al Shahin said.

He said the FNC met with the Iranian parliament a year ago and agreed not to escalate tensions, and to reach a negotiated solution.

"The UAE stood by its word but Iran did not," Dr Al Shahin said. "We want a private session to discuss this matter."

He added that such a session would help stress the FNC's stand and support for the government and its ministers.

In response to a recent visit by Iranian officials, who said relations between the two countries were "excellent", Ali Jassim, an FNC member from Umm Al Quwain, said: "We hear these things but we always ask them to translate these statements to actions.

"We have never found Iran taking the initiative to show good will. Always their actions are contradictory to their statements."

osalem@thenational.ae