Iran summons Russian envoy over statement on Gulf islands

Iran summons Russian envoy over statement on Gulf islands
Iran has long controlled the Tunb islands and Abu Musa, all of which are claimed by the UAE.
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The dispute comes as Iran has actively sought better ties with its Gulf neighbours [Getty]

Iran on Wednesday summoned the Russian ambassador in Tehran to protest a recent statement by Gulf countries and Moscow on three islands controlled by Iran but claimed by the United Arab Emirates.

On Monday, foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council and Russia held talks and called for "a peaceful solution" to the issue of the Greater and Lesser Tunb islands and Abu Musa.

They urged a resolution through "bilateral negotiations or the International Court of Justice, in accordance with the rules of international law and the United Nations Charter."

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On Wednesday, Iran's foreign ministry said it summoned Russia's ambassador Alexey Dedov and voiced the Islamic republic's "objections on the content of the statement."

It further "called for a correction of the Russian Federation's stance on this issue."

The three strategic islands - located in the Gulf near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of world oil output passes - have for years been a source of contention between the UAE and Iran.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Tuesday said the islands "belong to Iran forever and issuing such statements goes against the friendly relations between Iran and its neighbours."

The Islamic republic has in recent months stepped up diplomatic moves to reduce its isolation and offset the impact of crippling sanctions reimposed since the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from a painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal.

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In March, Iran agreed to restore ties with its regional rival Saudi Arabia under a Chinese-brokered deal. It has since been looking to mend bridges with other countries in the region including Egypt and Morocco.

Last week the Islamic republic became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which includes China, Russia and India.

Russia and Iran are both under international sanctions that restrict trade, but have over the past year forged strong ties in various sectors including military cooperation.