ABU DHABI - The United Arab Emirates dismissed as "inaccurate" on Wednesday statements attributed to its ambassador in Washington backing possible military action over Iran's nuclear programme.
"The statements attributed by the Washington Times to the UAE ambassador to the United States, Youssef Al-Otaiba, are not precise," the official WAM news agency quoted deputy foreign minister Tareq al-Haidan as saying.
Comments quoted in the paper on Tuesday "came as part of general discussions held on the sidelines of an unofficial gathering" in which the ambassador was speaking, Haidan said.
They "were taken out of context."
In the reported remarks, which the Washington Times described as "unusually blunt", Otaiba was quoted as saying that he preferred a resort to military action to "living with a nuclear Iran."
"We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE," the ambassador was quoted as saying.
The deputy foreign minister stressed: "The UAE totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rather calls for a solution through political means."
Haidan said his government "respects and believes in the sovereignty of other states and in the principle of non-interference, in any form, in their internal affairs."
However, "the UAE, at the same time, believes in the need to keep the Gulf region free of nuclear weapons," he added.
The UAE's relations with Iran deteriorated last month after it reportedly took steps to implement tough new UN sanctions against its neighbour across the Gulf.
The central bank ordered the freezing of 41 bank accounts targeted by the new sanctions, one UAE daily said.
Dubai also closed down the offices of 40 firms suspected of breaching the sanctions against Iran, another daily quoted an unnamed UAE official as saying.