x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Turkey may mediate between UAE and Iran over Gulf islands

Presidential adviser says his country should help resolve long-running dispute over Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb.

ABU DHABI // An adviser to the Turkish president said his country should help resolve a long-running dispute over ownership of three islands in the Gulf, WAM, the state news agency, reported today. Bahaeddine Jabaji said Turkey can act as an intermediary in talks between the UAE and Iran over the issue of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb. He was speaking at the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which began yesterday in Istanbul.

"Turkey should play a role in resolving this long-standing issue", he said. Iran occupied Abu Musa, near the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, along with Greater and Lesser Tunb, on the eve of the UAE's creation in December 1971. The islands have been a point of contention between the nations ever since. Last month, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, said the dispute was "a painful thing for all the UAE nationals". Speaking at the Federal National Council, he compared the occupation of the islands to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

"Occupation of an Arab land is occupation and not a misunderstanding," he said at the time. "Israeli occupation of Golan Heights, southern Lebanon, West Bank or Gaza is called occupation and no Arab land is dearer than another." In addition to suggesting mediation in the Gulf islands dispute, Mr Jabaji stressed Turkey's resolve to expand relations with other Muslim countries, including the UAE. He said Muslim countries should be unified in their response to Israeli settlement plans. According to WAM, he said Turkish-Israeli relations "are now at their lowest as a result of the measures taken by the Israeli occupation against Palestinians and Jerusalem City". amcmeans@thenational.ae