Saudi Arabia Calls for Iran to Answer on Territory Dispute with UAE
Saudi Arabia called Saturday for Iran to respond favorably to mediation efforts by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) over an islands dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
"The committee has not received the expected favorable response," Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz said at the opening of the Gulf Arab regional body's 21st summit.
Iran seized the three Gulf islands -- Abu Mussa, the Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb -- in 1971 after Britain withdrew from the region.
Iran will not receive a special GCC committee seeking to mediate, the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday.
Abdullah warned Iran "was losing a rare opportunity to settle this old conflict."
He expressed hope that Iran would give the committee a positive response "in the interest of the two countries and to ensure the region's security and stability."
He added that the dispute threatened relations between the GCC and Iran, which have improved since the election of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami in 1997.
The GCC, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, formed the committee of the Saudi, Qatari and Omani foreign ministers in July 1999.
The United Arab Emirates has said it will never give up its claims to the islands. Tehran rejects the UAE's claims and considers the islands an integral part of Iran -- MANAMA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)