The request to "keep the item relating to the three Emirati islands occupied by Iran" on the council's agenda was made in an letter from UAE ambassador in New York Abdul Aziz bin Nasser al-Shamsi to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the official WAM news agency said on Tuesday.

In December Iran reiterated its claim to ownership of the three islands after UAE President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan renewed calls for a resolution of the dispute.

Shaikh Khalifa called for settling the issue "through direct dialogue and talks according to a clear-cut agenda or as per the principles of international law, including the referral of the case to the International Court of Justice, if there is a need for that."

Iran gained control of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa after British forces left the Gulf in 1971.

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