The United Arab Emirates has summoned Iran’s ambassador to Abu Dhabi to denounce a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a disputed island in the Gulf, the emirates’ official state news agency said.
The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, “summoned the Iranian ambassador … and handed him a letter of protest, denouncing” Ahmadinejad’s visit on Wednesday to Abu Musa, the Emirates news agency (WAM) reported on Monday.
Gargash called the visit a “violation of UAE sovereignty”.
The move came after Abu Dhabi recalled its ambassador to Tehran last Wednesday and lodged a protest with the United Nations over the visit, stressing that the territorial dispute should be resolved in talks or at the International Court of Justice.
On Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the UAE foreign minister, met ambassadors representing UN Security Council member states in Abu Dhabi to convey the “UAE’s condemnation of this provocative visit,” WAM said.
“This will be an extraordinary meeting based on the UAE’s request to discuss the Iranian president’s recent visit to the island,” a GCC official said.
Tehran has insisted that Ahmadinejad’s trip, during which he said historical documents proved Iran’s claim that “the Persian Gulf is Persian,” was a purely “domestic issue”.
Foreign ministers of the six Gulf Co-operation Council states are scheduled to hold a special meeting in the Qatari capital on Tuesday to discuss the dispute.
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 in 1971 of the islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb, 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 Iran has since taken control of the entire island and has built an airport and military base there.
The general secretary of the UAE Football Association said it had cancelled a friendly match with Iran this week due to rising tensions over the disputed island.