09/04/2008, 00.00
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Gulf Council backs UAE against Iran

Six Arab countries call on Tehran to remove illegally built offices on Abu Musa Island and open talks over sovereignty. Iran’s reply is full of scorn.

Doha (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has backed the UAE in its protest against Iran’s decision to set up offices on disputed Gulf islands which UAE’s member Abu Dhabi claims. The GCC, which is made up of the six Arab Gulf states, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Kuwait, urged Iran to begin talks with the UAE over the island’s status. Iran flatly rejected the request.

In the statement, issued at the end of the Council’s 108th meeting, the GCC called on Iran to pull out its “illegal structures”, expressing its regret that all contacts with Iran had failed to achieve a peaceful solution of the issue.

Last, the GCC asked the Islamic Republic of Iran to make an effort towards a solution either through direct negotiations or via international arbitration at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The three islands—Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa—are almost uninhabited (500 residents) and have no economic value per se but are strategically located since they control the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway to the region’s oil riches.

Sovereignty over the three islands is disputed but Tehran has recently established a maritime rescue office and a ship registration office on Abu Musa Island.

Iran’s response was swift and scornful.

“All our country's measures on Abu Musa Island are completely legal and in accordance with Iran's rights governing this Iranian island,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said.

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