Iran builds new centre on disputed Abu Musa

Iran state television claims that Tehran has erected two buildings on the disputed Gulf island of Abu Musa.

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ABU DHABI // Iran state television yesterday claimed that Tehran had erected two buildings on the disputed Gulf island of Abu Musa. The small island, 60km off the coast of the UAE, and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, about 30km southwest of the Iranian island of Qeshm, were seized by force from the Emirates by Iran in 1971. According to the television report, one of the new buildings is a marine rescue centre and the other is a registration office for ships and sailors.

It is the first time in more than a decade that Iranian officials have spoken about construction works on Abu Musa, which sits 120km due west of the Strait of Hormuz. The UAE, which has maintained diplomatic and economic ties with Iran, has consistently urged it to negotiate or accept international arbitration over ownership of the islands, but the Islamic republic Iran has refused to co-operate.

Last month, Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, urged Iran to respond to its "peaceful initiatives" to settle the dispute. Dr Gargash made the appeal during his address to the 15th meeting of foreign ministers of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran.