UAE, Iranian Talks Begin in Tehran
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi on Monday started talks with three senior officials of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), against the backdrop of a longstanding dispute over three strategic Arabian Gulf islands.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived in Tehran at midday, accompanied by Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and interior ministry Undersecretary Sheikh Seif bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
All three are sons of UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and officially, their visit is to congratulate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on his re-election in June.
There was no official word on the subject of the talks at the foreign ministry in central Tehran, but sources close to the two delegations said they would focus on the isles dispute, drug trafficking, and the illegal immigration of Iranian nationals to the Emirates, according to AFP.
According to Al Jazeera satellite channel, the declared objective of the visit is to extend congratulations to President Mohammad Khatami on his landslide re-election.
However, the move is seen as possibly being part of efforts by both countries to settle a 30-year dispute over three islands in the Arabian Gulf.
According to the Iranian official news agency, IRNA, the visit comes following several telephone conversations between top Iranian and UAE officials and a meeting between Sheikh Hamdan and his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of a foreign ministerial meeting of the 56-member Organization of Islamic Conference in Doha last May.
According to an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement, “the Emirati minister is also to explore new ways of expanding Iran-UAE bilateral ties in talks with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi."
Iran and UAE are at loggerheads over the three strategic Gulf islands of Abu Moussa, the lesser and the greater Tunbs. The islands were seized by Iran in 1971 after Britain withdrew from the Arabian Gulf. Last June, Gulf Arab foreign ministers urged Iran to accept World Court arbitration in its dispute with the UAE over the islands. But Iran's Foreign Ministry rejected the proposal and vowed that the islands were "an integral part of Iranian territory and will remain so." – Albawaba.com
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