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UAE, Iran talks over Gulf islands?

April 5, 2010 at 12:08 PM   |   Comments

TEHRAN, April 5 (UPI) -- The president of the United Arab Emirates is expected in Iran soon to discuss renewed disputes over three contested islands in the Persian Gulf.

The semiofficial Mehr News Agency in Iran reports that Emirati President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan is expected to visit Tehran "in the near future" to discuss the Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb.

His visit comes more than two years after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Emirati officials to discuss sovereignty issues over the tiny islands.

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

The dispute has spilled over to regional affairs as the islands lie close to key oil shipping lanes near the Straits of Hormuz. They are sparsely populated, if at all.

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

The United Arab Emirates repeated its assertion in March at the Arab League summit Libya that the three islands were under Iranian occupation, sparking a renewed row over the issue.

Iran said the claims were "baseless."

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