UN Arab Group backs UAE over Abu Musa island

The United Nations Arab Group has condemned a visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad to the UAE's Abu Musa island as 'unjustified'.

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The Arab Group at the United Nations has adopted the UAE's stance in condemning the "unjustified" visit last week by the Iranian president to the UAE's Abu Musa island, the state news agency Wam reported.

The group, consisting of Arab member states of the UN, made a statement on Friday after a meeting chaired by the UAE's permanent representative to the UN, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Jaramain.

"The Arab Group at the United Nations condemns this unfortunate and unjustified action by the Iranian president, as it represents a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the United Arab Emirates and of the principles of the UN Charter and international law," the statement said.

The statement said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit also demonstrated Iran's blatant disregard of the UAE's efforts and endeavours to resolve the issue through peaceful means.

Along with the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, Abu Musa is one of three islands invaded by Iran on the eve of the UAE's foundation in 1971.

The UAE has repeatedly pressed its sovereignty over the islands, directly with Iran and through international bodies.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, has called Mr Ahmadinejad's visit a "flagrant violation" of Emirati sovereignty over its territories and a "setback" to the country's effort to find a peaceful settlement to the issue.

The Arab Group affirmed its full support for the UAE.

"The Arab Group considers Iran's occupation of these islands or taking any unilateral actions towards these islands to be null and void and undermine the security and stability in the region", the Arab Group's statement said.

"Accordingly, the Arab Group at the United Nations stresses the need for Iran to refrain from repeating such actions, which increase tensions in the region and impair the development of Arab-Iranian relations," said the statement, released on Wam.

The statement emphasised the need for Iran to demonstrate its good intentions towards an initiative launched by the UAE and backed by the Arab League. It calls for the issue to be resolved by peaceful means through direct negotiations or at the International Court of Justice.