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UAE Recalls Envoy To Tehran Over Gulf Island Dispute

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recalled its Ambassador to Tehran in protest against what it called a "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who visited a Persian Gulf island claimed by both countries.

Iran's official news agency IRNA reported that Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa island, about 60 kilometers off the UAE coast, on Wednesday as part of a tour of Iran's Gulf coast.

Both countries have staked claim over Abu Musa and two other small islands, located near strategic shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.

The islands have been under Iranian occupation since 1971, shortly before the seven Gulf Emirates gained independence from Britain and formed the UAE. Abu Dhabi's WAM news agency said on Thursday that the envoy was recalled for consultations, without giving further details.

Ahmadinejad's 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," WAM quoted UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan as saying.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani decried the Iranian leader's visit as "provocative" and a violation of UAE sovereignty, WAM reported.

Dismissing the UAE protest, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Ahmadinejad's visit was an "internal Iranian matter." He said Iran was determined to improve bilateral ties and was ready for a dialog with the UAE to resolve "possible misunderstandings," the semi-official Fars news agency said.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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