Saudi says World Court could end Iran-UAE row
DUBAI, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A territorial row between Iran and the United
Arab Emirates could best be resolved through the International Court of
Justice as Tehran has rejected regional mediation, Saudi Arabia's foreign
"One party, Iran, has declined to allow an opportunity for direct
negotiations," Prince Saud al-Faisal said in remarks carried by the
Saudi newspaper al-Watan on Monday.
"The ICJ is the best means to end the dispute if direct negotiations
could not be held," he said.
Iran and the United Arab Emirates are at odds over three small but strategic
islands -- Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs -- located near key
oil shipping lanes at the mouth of the Gulf. They are held by Iran and
claimed by the UAE.
Iran has rejected a mediation bid by Gulf Arab states to resolve the
dispute and refused to receive a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial
committee which was set up in 1999 to mediate a peaceful solution to the
Iran says the islands are an integral part of its territory, but that
it is ready to hold talks with the UAE to clear up any "misunderstandings."
A communique issued after a two-day GCC summit in December voiced support
for the rights of the UAE to the three islands and urged Tehran to agree
to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman the UAE
Relations between Iran and most GCC states have improved since Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate, was elected in 1997. But the dispute
over the islands has hindered a further improvement of ties.