An Iranian Foreign Ministry official has said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the Iranian island of Abu Musa, as part of a recent tour of the southern province of Hormozgan, is an "internal Iranian affair."
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is the deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, made the remarks on Thursday in response to UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan who said on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad's visit "is a flagrant violation of the United Arab Emirates' sovereignty over its territory and a transgression of efforts to find a peaceful settlement to end Iranian occupation of the three UAE islands."
The Iranian official also highlighted the importance of bilateral talks meant to resolve the issue and said that the Islamic Republic is determined to expand ties with the UAE.
According to Reuters, the UAE has recalled its ambassador to Tehran for consultations after Ahmadinejad's visit to the island.
The UAE has also cancelled a friendly match with Iran's national soccer team which was due to be held on Tuesday in the Persian Gulf Arab state, the UAE Football Association said on its website.
The UAE has repeatedly questioned Iran's sovereignty over the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and urged Tehran to agree to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague or engage in direct negotiations.
Iran says its sovereignty over the islands is not negotiable but has called for talks with the UAE to clear up misunderstandings.
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