UAE cancels friendly with Iran over island row

UAE cancels friendly with Iran over island row
# 12 April 2012 20:22 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday cancelled a friendly football match with Iran, reported state media, in the latest protest against a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to a disputed island the day before, APA reports.

The move was announced by the UAE Football Association, which said the cancellation was "in solidarity with the country’s official stance" condemning Ahmedinejad’s visit to the island of Abu Musa.

Abu Musa, along with two smaller islands, was taken over by Iran after British forces withdrew in 1971. It is claimed by both countries, but controlled by Iran.

The football match was due to take place on April 17 in the UAE emirate of Al Fujairah.

The UAE earlier Thursday recalled its ambassador from Iran for consultations, the official news agency reported, citing the Foreign Ministry.

Ahmadinejad’s visit on Wednesday to the island was denounced by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan as "a blatant violation of Emirati sovereignty."

A statement by the Federal National Council, the UAE’s parliament, has called on Iran "to cease such provocative steps and adopt peaceful approaches that could build confidence," reported the official news agency.

The islands have a strategic location near the entrance to the Straits of Hormuz, a vital channel for oil shipments from the Gulf.