Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi has said the committee formed by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to help resolve the territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates would be welcome in Tehran if it aims to encourage dialogue, the press reported Sunday.
"We are ready to welcome the tripartite committee if its aim is to encourage dialogue," Kharazi told the Riyadh-based Okaz newspaper.
Abu Dhabi has claims on three Gulf islands -- Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs -- that have been held by Iran since 1971 and that could potentially control one of the world's major oil supply routes.
Iran has rejected Emirati calls to settle the issue in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, insisting they are Iranian territory.
The Gulf Cooperation Council formed a panel in July 1999 comprising the Omani, Qatari and Saudi foreign ministers to initiate direct talks between Abu Dhabi and Tehran, but it has thus far achieved nothing and has not visited Iran.
"We believe that the question of the islands can only be settled by direct dialogue with the UAE," Kharazi said. "I have already visited there twice and it is now the turn of the UAE to come to Tehran." - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )