UAE's Foreign Minister Leads Top Delegation to Tehran
The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is to arrive in Tehran Monday at the head of a high-ranking political delegation, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Sunday, cited by the official Iranian news agency, IRNA.
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 agency, the visit comes following several telephone conversations between top Iranian and UAE officials and a meeting between Sheikh Hamdan and his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharrazi, on the sidelines of a foreign ministerial meeting of the 56-member Organization of Islamic Conference in Doha last May.
The UAE minister of state will be accompanied by Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the interior ministry undersecretary, Sheikh Seif bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
According to the foreign ministry’s statement, “the Emirati minister is also to explore new ways of expanding Iran-UAE bilateral ties in talks with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.
However, the statement did not make it clear whether the two officials would renewed contacts on the longstanding islands dispute between the two Gulf states after a decade-long break.
Iran and UAE are at the loggerheads over the three strategic Gulf islands of Abu Moussa, the lesser and the greater Tunbs. The islands were seized by the 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 three strategic islands. But Iran's Foreign Ministry rejected the proposal and vowed the islands "are an integral part of Iranian territory and will remain so." – Albawaba.com
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