Iran leader slams U.A.E. over visit by Israel minister
Minister Uzi Landau attended international energy conference in first official visit to Gulf state.
Top Iranian clergyman Ahmad Khatami slammed the United Arab Emirates on Saturday for its decision to allow National Infrastructure minister Uzi Landau to arrive at its international energy conference ealier in the week.
"This is an unacceptable normalization," Khatami said, calling the U.A.E. leaders responsible for the invitation "sanctimonious hypocrites."
Minister Uzi Landau said on Sunday he did not meet with any U.A.E. officials while attending a conference of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
The event marked the first time Israel had sent a cabinet minister to the United Arab Emirates.
Landau said the Israeli delegation entered the country after special arrangements were made. "They had to do it since they committed themselves to making it possible for all member states, with or without relations, to participate in the agency's activities," Landau said in a phone interview from Abu Dhabi.
Last year the U.A.E. denied entry to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer to an international tournament in Dubai. The UAE officials said Peer was denied a visa because of anti-Israel sentiments in the Gulf state following last year's three-week war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The tournament was fined a record $300,000 for refusing Peer the entry. Last week the U.A.E. authorities sent a written assurance to the World Tennis Association that all players who will qualify for the 2010 championships will be allowed into the country and welcome to play in Dubai.
On Sunday, an official with the U.A.E.'s Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press that "allowing an Israeli cabinet minister to participate in the agency's activities was part of obligations in hosting [the agency] in the UAE."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. He added, that Israel's participation in the international event in the oil-rich Abu Dhabi will have no implications or indications for bilateral links between the U.A.E. and any other party.