x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE 'still suffering from Iran's occupation of islands'

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, has termed the occupation of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa islands as a threat to international stability.

The UAE is still suffering from the Iranian occupation of its three islands, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, has told a conference in Kazakhstan.

WAM, the state news agency, quoted him as calling the occupation of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa islands a threat to international stability, saying the UAE stood by the need for "international mediation or direct negotiation to reach a settlement". This could be through the UN or the International Court of Justice, or any similar organisation.

However, he said, Tehran has not shown no sign of willingness to solve the matters at an international level since it invaded the islands on the eve of the UAE's foundation in 1971.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, visited the Abu Musa in April, making a speech in which he asserted Iran's right to the islands.

The UAE instantly declared the visit provocative and called on Iran to engage in dialogue to solve the dispute.

Turning to other matters, Sheikh Abdullah said Asia was facing other "challenges from reaching its full potential in the international level".

The UAE was particularly concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the plight of the Palestinians.

He said the situation in Syria was worsening by the day, with refugees spilling into neighbouring countries. He said the UAE and other GCC countries were providing aid and money.

He added that the international community should not forget about the Palestinians. Although the situation might be calm for now, it could change at any time.

OSalem@thenational.ae