Last updated: 15 April, 2012

Gulf Cooperation Council to meet on Iran-UAE island spat

Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf are to hold a special meeting in the Qatari capital on Tuesday to discuss the islands dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, an official source said.

A Gulf Cooperation Council official said earlier that the meeting would take place in Riyadh but the GCC finally said it will be held in Doha.

The meeting comes after Abu Dhabi recalled its ambassador to Tehran in protest at a visit to Abu Musa island by Iran’s president.

Abu Dhabi has also lodged a protest with the United Nations over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit, stressing that the territorial dispute should be resolved through negotiations or at the International Court of Justice.

Tehran referred to last Wednesday’s visit, during which Ahmadinejad insisted historical documents proved “the Persian Gulf is Persian,” as a purely “domestic issue.”

Both Iran and the UAE claim territorial sovereignty over Abu Musa and two other islands in the southern Gulf.

Iran, then under the rule of the Western-backed shah, gained control of the islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb in 1971, as Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.

Abu Musa, the only inhabited island of the three, was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.

Abu Dhabi says the Iranians have since taken control of the entire island which controls access to the oil-rich Gulf and have installed an airport and military base on Abu Musa.

Abdullatif al-Zayani, head of the GCC which groups the UAE with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, has said Ahmadinejad’s visit was “not in line with the GCC policy of maintaining good neighbourly relations with Iran.”