Iran gained control of three strategic islands - Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa - after British forces left the Gulf in 1971. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday only Abu Musa could be open to any form of discussion. 

"To us it is not the issue of three islands. There is misunderstanding over the Iranian island of Abu Musa, which can be discussed according to the 1971 memorandum of understanding," Asefi said. 

But he added that regardless of any discussions, "these islands belong to Iran and will undoubtedly remain so in the future".

The dispute

Iran took possession of Greater and Lesser Tunbs in 1971, while the only inhabited island - Abu Musa - became subject to joint administration under a deal with Sharja, what is now part of the UAE. 

But since then, the UAE contends, the Iranians have taken
control of all access to the island, installed an airport and
military base there as well as encouraged settlers to move there to shift the demography. 

The three islands lie roughly half way between the Iranian port of Bandar-e Langeh and Dubai in the UAE.