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GCC urges Iran to close offices on disputed island

Jeddah, September 3, 2008

Gulf Arab countries have urged Iran to remove the offices it has installed on a disputed island in the strategic Gulf waterway and backed the United Arab Emirates' claim to the territories.

The condemnation came in the closing statement of the six-member Gulf Cooperation 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 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. A UAE source compared Iran's actions at the time to Israel's occupation of Arab lands.

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

Tags: UAE | GCC | Abu Musa |

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