Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The United Arab Emirates has recalled its ambassador to Iran after the UAE Foreign Ministry denounced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s trip to Abu Musa Island, whose ownership is disputed by Iran and its southern neighbour.

The Emirates official news agency reported on Thursday that the UAE ambassador to Iran has been recalled for discussions. The news follows the UAE Foreign Ministry’s criticism of Ahmadinejad for his trip to Abu Musa.

The UAE Foreign Minister said on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad’s trip to the Island was a “blatant violation of UAE sovereignty and a step back for all the UAE efforts to find a peaceful solution to the end Iran’s occupation of the three UAE islands.”

Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa during a tour of the southern Iranian province of Hormozegan.

Gulf News reports that UAE criticisms have also been echoed by the Bahraini government, which has expressed solidarity with the Emirates.

Gulf News also reports that the dispute has resulted in the cancellation of the friendly games between the UAE national soccer team and Iran, which was scheduled for Tuesday April 17.

Iranian authorities have so far shown no reaction to the UAE concerns.

Abu Musa, an Iranian island in the eastern part of the Persian Gulf, was one of the British-controlled islands in the region and was reattached to Iran together with the Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb Islands in 1968, after Britain relinquished its rule in the region. The UAE has claimed ownership of Abu Musa and taken its claim to the United Nations.

The three islands were used as an excuse by Saddam Hussein to begin the eight-year Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.