Gulf ministers to discuss Abu Musa

Foreign ministers from the GCC plan to discuss the Iranian occupation of three Emirati islands when they meet.

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Foreign ministers from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) plan to discuss the Iranian occupation of three Emirati islands in the Arabian Gulf when they meet next week. The ministers are to hold their 108th ministerial session next Tuesday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Abdul Rahman al Atiyya, the GCC secretary general, said the main topic of discussion would be the Iranian occupation and relations with the Islamic republic following a recent announcement by Tehran that new buildings had been constructed on the main island, Abu Musa, the state news agency, WAM, reported last night.

Mr Attiya last week condemned Iran, telling Abu Dhabi TV that Tehran's failure to respond to the GCC's denunciation of construction activities on the island reflected an "absence of a constructive vision for neighbourly relations". On Saturday Iran broke a two-week silence over the issue, dismissing Mr Attiya's statement as "rude literature... under the pressure of big powers". Last night Mr Attiya was reported as saying the GCC session was crucial to the development of the region, especially in light of recent events in the area.

"The GCC is totally behind the full sovereignty of the UAE over the three islands - Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa - and called on Iran to respond to the UAE sincere initiatives to settle the issue through direct negotiations or resort to the International Court of Justice," he said in the statement released by WAM. The GCC would also discuss Palestinian-Israeli relations as well as the outcome of the visit by the Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman, to Syria and the situations in Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, said Mr Atiyya.

Other items on the agenda would include the proposed peaceful use of nuclear power by GCC countries, as well as items discussed in previous ministerial meetings in the areas of communication, trade, industry, agriculture and the environment.