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05/03/12

Gulf Council Warns Iran About Stirring Up Trouble

Source: RFE/RL


A visit by Iran's president to the island of Abu Musa in Persian Gulf has upped tensions with the UAE.
[Related Article: The Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu-Musa ]

Saudi Arabia has again warned Iran not to stir up trouble among Gulf Arab states.

At a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef condemned what he called Iran's "occupation" of an island also claimed by the United Arab Emirates and its alleged role in Bahrain, where mainly Shi'ite-led unrest has flared up again.

"We stress that Saudi Arabia and the rest of the council countries stand in a unified line with Bahrain and the UAE to protect sovereignty and stability, considering their security a part of the council's security as a whole," Nayef said at the meeting.

Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, sent troops into Bahrain last year to put down an uprising seen by Sunni Muslim Gulf rulers as being supported by Shi'ite Iran.

Clashes between Bahraini security forces and mostly Shi'ite protesters have flared up recently, in part due to Bahrain's hosting of a Formula One race.

Tensions between Gulf Arab states and Iran have also risen due to a visit last month by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa, one of three islands claimed by both Iran and the UAE.


Abu Musa island's residents welcoming President Ahmadinejad - April 2012

"Any harm that comes across any of our countries is harm that touches us all," Nayef said. "From this point, I confirm the permanent position of Saudi Arabia condemning what the UAE has experienced in unacceptable practices from a neighboring country which has consistently ignored the legal right of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands occupied by Iran."

Over the weekend, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in a speech that Gulf Arab states are pushing ahead with plans for a political union that would involve joint foreign and defense policies.

After Ahmadinejad's April 11 visit to Abu Musa, Tehran stated that sovereignty over the three islands was not up for negotiation, but offered talks with the UAE to clear up "misunderstandings."

Quoted by the student news agency ISNA, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran wanted to "have the best possible relations with the UAE, as our trade and economic relations are significant."

With Reuters and AFP reporting


Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org


 
Iranian island of Abu Musa in Persian Gulf

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