UAE summons Iran’s envoy over Gulf island spat

The United Arab Emirates has summoned Iran's ambassador to Abu Dhabi to denounce a visit by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a disputed island in the Persian Gulf, the official state news agency said on Monday.

The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Qarqash, "summoned the Iranian ambassador … and handed him a letter of protest, denouncing" Ahmadinejad's visit on Wednesday to Abu Musa, WAM reported.

Qarqash called the visit a "violation of UAE sovereignty."

The move came after Abu Dhabi recalled its ambassador to Tehran 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, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan met ambassadors representing Security Council member states in Abu Dhabi to convey the "UAE's condemnation of this provocative visit," WAM said.

Tehran has insisted that Ahmadinejad's trip, during which he said historical documents proved "the Persian Gulf is Persian," is a purely "domestic issue."

Foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation 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 the Iranians have since taken control of the entire island which controls access to the oil-rich Gulf and have built an airport and military base there.

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