The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has called on Iran to directly and peacefully negotiate the dispute over three islands in the Gulf and has condemned the country's interference in Arab regional affairs.
Speaking at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday, the UAE's Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar said: "We reiterate our demand to end the occupation of the three islands, and our country will continue to call on Iran to accept a peaceful solution to the conflict through direct negotiations or resort to the International Court of Justice."
The three islands in question are those of Tunb Al-Kubra, Tunb Al-Sughra, and Abu Musa, which are located in the Gulf between Iran and the UAE and have been under Iranian control since the 1970s. While Tehran claims that the islands are an integral part of its territory and have always been Iranian, Abu Dhabi stresses that they rightfully belong to the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah.
Al-Marar also addressed the issue of Yemen, saying that "there is an opportunity to reach a lasting peace in Yemen, which can only be achieved through a comprehensive political solution that includes a ceasefire."
Impoverished Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains. Despite having initially been a partner of Saudi Arabia in supporting the internationally-recognised Yemeni government, the UAE has switched to backing the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) in recent years.
Al-Marar insisted that Iran stop interfering in the affairs of Arab states in the region, stating: "These interventions have undermined the stability of the region and the world, and we are counting on a clear international position that rejects regional interference in Arab affairs."
The condemnation of foreign interference in Arab affairs reflects a similar tone in a statement earlier this month by the Arab League – a primary member being the UAE – which also accused Turkey of interfering in the region.
Abu Dhabi's reiteration of the need for negotiations over the disputed islands comes a month after Iran's new President Ibrahim Raisi stated that his country is a "true and sincere friend" of the Emirates and expressed his hope to improve bilateral relations.