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Iran occupation of UAE islands like Israel's: FM

UAE likens Iran's control of islands to Israeli occupation

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday likened Iran's control of three disputed Gulf islands to Israel's occupation of Arab territories.

"The occupation of any Arab land is an occupation," Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said in a question-and-answer session of the consultative Federal National Council, according to WAM state news agency.

"There is no difference between Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, southern Lebanon, the West Bank or Gaza, as occupation remains occupation... No Arab land is more precious than another," he said, referring to the islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Mousa.

"As an Emirati, it is normal that I should be... more sensitive about an occupied part of the UAE than other Arab territories. Otherwise, one would be fooling himself," the minister said.

Iran, under the rule of the Western-backed shah, gained control of the islands in 1971, as Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.

The Islamic republic took possession of the Tunbs, while Abu Mousa -- the only inhabited island -- was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.

But the UAE says the Iranians have since taken control of all access to the strategic island and installed an airport and military base there.