ABU DHABI, (AP) — The United Arab Emirates will respect any sanctions imposed by the United Nations on key trading partner Iran, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said on Saturday.
“The Emirates will respect any international sanctions that could be imposed by the UN Security Council on Iran,” he said at a news conference with visiting Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.
But he nevertheless said he hoped the international community will solve its row with Iran “through diplomatic means … before reaching this phase” of imposing fresh sanctions on Tehran.
His remarks come days only after a visit to Abu Dhabi by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates who said Saudi Arabia and the UAE had signalled a willingness to press China to support tough new sanctions on Iran.
The two oil-rich Arab states were also open to lobbying Moscow on the issue “although there’s less need with respect to Russia,” said Gates — who also visited Saudi Arabia this week — as it was more supportive of sanctions.
The focus was “mainly China,” Gates said in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
His comments suggested the United States could be making headway in its push to secure international support for harsh financial sanctions designed to force Iran to give up its uranium enrichment work.
The UAE has a large Iranian expatriate community and is a major conduit for Iran’s trade with the outside world.
Earlier this year the UAE foreign minister joined his German counterpart in saying that Iran must do more to allay the international community’s concerns about its nuclear programme or fresh sanctions would be likely.
“We are very concerned about Iran’s non-transparent behaviour with regard to its nuclear programme,” he said after talks in January with his visiting German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.
He urged Iran to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The West fears that Iran’s nuclear drive is a cover for an atomic weapons programme but Tehran insists it is only for peaceful uses.