Most PGCC States Support Improvement of Ties With Iran

June 15, 1999 - 0:0
TEHRAN -- While most of the Persian Gulf countries support improvement of ties with Iran, the Untied Arab Emirates is trying to sabotage the move. The UAE's opposition to improvement of ties with Iran stems from its subservience to Britain, analysts here say. The UAE is not as much concerned about its misunderstanding with Iran over the Iranian island of Abu Musa as it is about orders from London which is against any cordial ties between Iran and the Arab countries of the Perian Gulf. A senior Persian Gulf Arab official was due to arrive in Kuwait on Monday to try to heal a rift between Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) members over the pace of improving ties with Iran. PGCC Secretary-General Jameel al-Hujailan was due to meet with Kuwaiti leaders after a similar visit to Qatar, a senior Persian Gulf source told Reuters. He was expected to visit other PGCC leaders to discuss the dispute which the group's foreign ministers failed to resolve last week in a meeting in Saudi Arabia. The ministers discussed complaints by the United Arab Emirates that some members had improved ties with Iran while a misunderstanding between Tehran and Abu Dhabi over the Iranian island of Abu Musa remained unresolved.

Earlier in Qatar, Hujailan said the rift was not a catastrophe. "Discussions and dialogue are healthy and not unusual in international my opinion, what happened was not the end of the world," Hujailan said in remarks carried by the Qatar news agency (QNA). Persian Gulf sources said that the UAE was angry at Saudi Arabia for failing to keep it informed about its talks with Iran. The foreign ministers ended their meeting on Saturday without issuing a final statement -- a clear sign that the issue remained a sore point.

The ministers are due to meet again after Hujailan's tour. The main difference, sources told Reuters, centred on a UAE demand to form a committee to review the nature of ties with Iran and collective PGCC moves to resolve the island's misunderstanding. But Saudi Arabia refused to join the committee. Meanwhile President Khatami has sent a message to Prince Abudllah of Saudi Arabia. Although the content of the letter is not clear, some observers say the President has thanked Prince Adullah for his stance which is in the interests of the Islamic world.

Privately, the UAE, the current head of the PGCC, has said it was reconsidering its role within the PGCC, a political and economic alliance formed in 1981. Earlier this month, the UAE criticized Persian Gulf Arab allies for rushing to forge stronger ties with Iran, saying an exchange of visits between Iranian and Persian Gulf Arab officials was hurting the UAE's interests.