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United Arab Emirates
H.E. His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs

27 September 2008

Statement Summary

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of United Arab Emirates, highlighted many of his country’s recent accomplishments, beginning with the expanded role of women in governmental bodies and labour forces, the development of human rights legislations and laws, and the protection of the rights of overseas labour.  He also noted his Government’s active participation in foreign aid and humanitarian assistance, directly to and indirectly through United Nations agencies, to Member States and countries impacted by natural and man-made crises, such the current worldwide food and energy shortages.

Another achievement had been the collaborative sustainable development project with the Worldwide Fund for Nature of Masdar City, which would be the first carbon-free city in the world, completely run on renewable and clean technologies, such as solar energy, which would be used for power generation and desalination of water.  He said that great progress had also been made to restructure the country’s educational system, an essential component to breaking the cycle of poverty and ignorance and an antidote to the growth of terrorism and extremism.

However, he noted that Iran’s occupation since 1971 of the three United Arab Emirates islands -- Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb -- and called for the full restoration of his country’s sovereignty over them, their waters, airspace, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.  He appealed to the international community to urge Iran to resolve that issue with direct negotiation or through the International Court of Justice.

Turning to the issue of nuclear proliferation, he called for the Middle East and Arabian Gulf to become free from weapons of mass destruction.  That would require both Israel’s compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions, including the recommendations of IAEA.  He called as well for Iran’s continued collaboration with IAEA and the wider international community.  However, the United Arab Emirates still supported the development of nuclear power for peaceful means, including its own nuclear programme developed to meet its energy needs.

A dedicated supporter to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, he expressed concerns about Israel’s growing lack of interest in negotiation.  Only with pressure from the Security Council, the international community and the members of the diplomatic Quartet would relevant resolutions be implemented.  Such pressure could thus end occupation, ensure adherence to the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative, and establish an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, while, at the same time, ensuring Israel’s security.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, also speaking in right of reply, responded to the comments made by Iran’s representative regarding his country’s “unjust legal claims” over the islands of Abu Musa.  Similar statements had been made in years past, and the United Arab Emirates was disappointed to hear them repeated yet again.  The islands belonged to the United Arab Emirates, which had a “just and legal right” to the area. 

The territory could not be divided and he categorically repudiated all the “illegal measures” undertaken by Iran, he said.  The international community should urge Iran to enter into negotiations over the occupation of those islands or to bring the situation to the International Court of Justice.  Stability in the Gulf region required a respect for the sovereignty of States and non-interference in the internal affairs of respective countries.

[Source: GA/10757]

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