Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

UAE recalls envoy to Iran over Gulf island row


The UAE has recalled its ambassador to Tehran for consultations after what the foreign minister said was a "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who visited a Gulf island claimed by both countries since the 1970s.

Iranian state news agency IRNA had reported that Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa island, some 60 km (40 miles) off the United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday as part of a tour of Iran's Gulf coast but did not refer to the territorial dispute.

Both countries claim Abu Musa and two other small islands, located near key shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf. The islands have been held by Iran since 1971, shortly before the seven Gulf emirates gained full independence from Britain and formed the UAE.

UAE state news agency WAM said on Thursday the envoy was recalled for consultations, without giving further details.

"His visit ... is a flagrant violation of the United Arab Emirates' sovereignty over its territory and a transgression of efforts to find a peaceful settlement to end Iranian occupation of the three UAE islands," UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan was quoted as saying by WAM on Wednesday.

Iran says its sovereignty over the islands is not negotiable but has called for talks with the UAE to clear up "misunderstandings".

The UAE has urged Tehran to agree to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague or engage in direct negotiations.