Dubai at center of US efforts to pressure Iran

A visit Monday by a senior US Treasury official to this oil-rich Gulf state highlighted its role as a key Iranian international gateway, days after the US announced new sanctions to curb foreign business with the Islamic Republic. The Emirates' strong trade ties with Iran and the growth of Dubai as the Middle East's financial center have helped Tehran withstand international pressure to suspend its controversial nuclear program. During Monday's visit here, US Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David McCormick and Emirates officials discussed international efforts to force Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce fuel for a reactor or a nuclear weapon. "We talked to our UAE counterparts on this and we hope they will follow suit with what the international community is doing," McCormick told Dow Jones Newswires at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates' capital. However, Abu Dhabi government spokesman Ibrahim al-Abed disputed this, saying Iran was not discussed. With a 500,000-strong Iranian ex-pat community and some US$10 billion in annual exports to the Islamic Republic, the Emirates is one of Iran's most important outlets to the world.