Iran Reiterates Solution to Island Dispute through Talks

A0298292.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said in Manama on Wednesday that his country’s dispute with the UAE over the three Iranian islands of the Greater Tunb, the Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa should be resolved through mutual dialogue.

Larijani accused western powers of trying to use the dispute as a reason to raise tensions in the region to justify their military presence.

“They are creating problems and fear by creating an imaginary enemy so they could retake the oil revenues through arms sales,” he said during a press conference in Manama last night.

“The current financial crisis is more of a reason for the US to push ahead with this policy because they want the countries of the region to be divided and dependent on it.”

Larijani said Iran and the UAE have had intensive dialogue in the past and that there is no real conflict between the two. The island dispute can be resolved, he said.

International documents clearly show that the three islands, which were historically owned by Iran, temporarily fell to British control in 1903. The islands were returned to Iran based on an agreement in 1971 before the UAE was born.

Iran has repeatedly declared that its ownership of the three islands is unquestionable. Under international law, no state can defy any agreements, which came into being before its establishment.

Although the UAE continues to make territorial claims against the Islamic Republic despite historical evidence and international regulations, Tehran has remained open to negotiations over the issue.

Larijani said Iran welcomes a dialogue with its Arab neighbors to resolve any outstanding issues and build up cooperation.

“This is not the only dispute in the region that the US and the West have tried to flare up. They have tried to create a conflict between Sunnis and Shiites despite the fact that there is no conflict between the two,” he said.

Larijani further reiterated his country’s position that the Persian Gulf countries not allow US and western military bases to be established on their soil, saying US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a devastating effect on the region.

Larijani denied that his country played any role in the recent Iraqi cabinet decision to demand changes in a security pact with the United States and said the Iraqi people reject it because it would take away their sovereignty as a nation.

The US is in talks with Iraqi officials to get them to sign a provocative security agreement which secures long-term US presence in Iraq.

If ratified by the Iraqi government, the Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) would also grant US forces in Iraq immunity from prosecution.

It also gives the occupation forces a free rein to stage military operations wherever and whenever they deem necessary, without consulting the Iraqi government.

The proposed pact is also facing widespread opposition among Iraqi people and politicians.

Many fear Washington has plans to keep permanent bases, despite a denial of any such plan written into the proposal. Iraqis say the drafts submitted by the Americans thus far would infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty by giving US forces too much freedom to operate.

The security pact also faces strong criticism from members of al-Maliki’s own coalition. Two Iraqi officials familiar with the negotiations have warned that a deal is unlikely to be reached before the end of President Bush’s term in January unless Washington backs off some demands seen as giving American forces too much freedom to operate in Iraq and infringing on Iraqi sovereignty.

Iraq’s parliament must approve the deal, and the two officials said opposition in the legislature was so widespread that it stood no chance of winning approval without significant changes in the US position. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations.

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