Gulf bloc united over island dispute with Iran

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Gulf Arab states warned Iran Tuesday that they stand united in an escalating dispute over strategic islands controlled by Tehran but also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.

A statement by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council told Iran that any perceived aggression against the UAE is considered an affront to the entire bloc, which includes Iran's main regional rival Saudi Arabia.

The message could intensify the tensions over Abu Musa and two nearby islands in the Gulf between the UAE and Iran. The GCC has sharply denounced last week's visit to Abu Musa by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Also Tuesday, Iran's official news agency IRNA described plans to turn Abu Musa into an Iranian tourist zone.

The U.S. called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. State Department spokesman Mark Toner criticized Iranian President Ahmadinejad's April 11 visit to Abu Musa, saying it would "complicate efforts to settle the issue."