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Iran insists on its sovereignty over Persian Gulf islands

TEHRAN, June 17 (AFP) - Iran has again insisted on its sovereignty over three strategic Gulf islands also claimed by the United Arab Emirates, saying their legal status was clear.

"The legal status of the three Iranian islands, Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs is clearly transparent and no legal ambiguity exists in this regard," deputy parliamentary speaker Hassan Rowhani said.

"History shows that the UAE has nothing to do with the islands," said Rowhani, also secretary of the National Supreme Security Council, Iran's top security body.

"The islands have belonged to Iran throughout history ... for some time these Iranian islands were occupied by the British, but were given back after they left," he said Wednesday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Rowhani also accused the UAE of raising the issue of the islands whenever it wants to distract attention from its "internal squabbles."

UAE Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah al-Nuaimi on Saturday accused Iran of "continuing to consolidate its occupation" of the three islands despite the emirate's repeated calls to find a peaceful solution.

Iran has controlled the islands since 1971 after Britain ended its protectorate. Tehran says its ready to hold talks with the UAE to remove "misunderstandings," but rejects international arbitration.

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