Egypt backs U.A.E. claim over Gulf islands

April 2, 2009 at 4:17 PM

CAIRO, April 2 (UPI) -- Egyptian officials Thursday blasted Iranian comments concerning sovereignty claims over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz.

Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, in March expressed a coordinated position by Arab states that three islands -- Abu Moussa and Greater and Lesser Tunb -- are territory held by the United Arab Emirates but under Iranian occupation.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi responded, saying the Arab claims to the island "have no legal foundation."

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki struck back at his Iranian counterpart, saying the Iranian claims were a serious issue for the Arab community, the Emirates News Agency reports.

"Egypt strongly believes that those islands are occupied and that Iran should end its occupation of them," he said. "We fully support the U.A.E. stand on this issue."

Iran recalled its ambassador to Iraq in 2008 in protest of Baghdad's support for a move by the United Arab Emirates to take ownership of three Persian Gulf islands.

Iran claimed control over the islands following the departure of British forces in 1971.

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