x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Gulf states urge Iran to close offices on disputed island

Iran is urged by Gulf states to remove the offices it has installed on the disputed Abu Musa island.

Abu Musa, in the Strait of Hormuz, was seized by Iran from the UAE in 1971.
Abu Musa, in the Strait of Hormuz, was seized by Iran from the UAE in 1971.

DUBAI // Gulf states have urged Iran at a meeting late yesterday to remove the offices it has installed on the disputed Abu Musa island and backed the UAE's claim to the territories. The condemnation came in the closing statement of the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) foreign ministers' meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. "The ministerial council condemns Iran's establishment of two administrative offices on Abu Musa island that belongs to the UAE and demands that Iran remove these illegal installations and respect the UAE's sovereignty on its land," the GCC statement read.

Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, located near key shipping lanes in the Gulf, are controlled by Iran but claimed by the UAE with broad Arab support. The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi was quoted by Iran's Mehr News Agency today as saying the GCC "statement is interfering in Iran's internal affairs and is rejected," and added that the islands would forever belong to Iran.

Mr Qashqavi insisted that all the actions taken by Iran on Abu Musa were legal and based on Iran's rights over the island, calling on Gulf countries to be "realistic". The UAE summoned Iran's charge d'affaires last month to protest against Iran's establishment of maritime offices on one of the islands and said the move should be reversed. In May, the UAE protested against Iran's dismissal of the three-decade-old territorial dispute as a misunderstanding and said Iran was occupying the islands.

The GCC foreign ministers called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute through direct negotiations or by referring the case to the International Court of Justice. "[We] express regret for the failure of contacts with the Islamic Republic of Iran to reach any positive outcome towards a resolution to the issue of the three islands, which would bolster the stability and security of the region," it said.

*Reuters