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World News

China maintains stance on disputed Gulf islands despite Iran’s anger

BEIJING (Reuters) – China maintained its position on three disputed islands in the Persian Gulf on Monday despite Tehran’s anger at Beijing for describing the Iranian-controlled islands as an issue to be resolved with the United Arab Emirates.

In a statement last week, China expressed support for the UAE’s efforts to reach a “peaceful solution” to the issue of the islands – Greater Tounb, Lesser Tounb and Abu Musa.

The islands, claimed by the United Arab Emirates and Iran, have been held by Tehran since 1971.

In a rare show of anger toward its largest trading partner, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned China’s ambassador to Iran on Sunday to protest China’s “repeated support” for the UAE’s “baseless claims.” .

“Given the strategic cooperation between Tehran and Beijing, the Chinese government is expected to revise its position on this issue,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday reiterated its call for Iran and the United Arab Emirates to resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation, calling China’s position on the issue “consistent.”

“The relevant content of the China-UAE joint statement is in line with China’s position,” Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing when asked about Iran’s protests, without proposing a revision of the position from Beijing.

She added that China and Iran enjoy sound relations and China attaches great importance to the development of their strategic partnership.

China angered Iran in December 2022 when it issued a joint statement with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries calling for efforts to resolve the three-island issue.

This statement then highlights the need to “ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program”, which was not mentioned in the last statement with the United Arab Emirates.

(Reporting by Liz Lee and Ryan Woo; editing by Ros Russell)

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