At the final session today of the meeting of the Ministers of Defense of the Gulf Cooperation Council states, GCC Secretary-General Jameel Al-Hujeilan read a concluding statement, which said that the fifteenth meeting of the GCC Ministers of Defense, held in Riyadh on November 12 and 13, 1996, under the chairmanship of Badr Bin Saud Bin Harib Al-Bosaidi, the Omani Minister in charge of defense affairs, was attended by Major General Sheikh Muhammad Bin Obaid Al-Maktoum, Under-Secretary at the Defense Ministry of the UAE; Lt.-General Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini Minister of Defense and the Deputy General Commander of the Bahraini Defense Forces; Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General; Sheikh Hamed Bin Saif Al-Thani, the Qatari Minsiter of State; and Sheikh Salim Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. Also attending were GCC Secretary-General Jameel Al-Hujeilan, and Major General Faleh Abdullah Al-Shatti, Assistant Secretary-General for Military Affairs.
The statement reported that the meeting resulted in a number of resolutions within the framework of support to military cooperation among GCC states, especially concerning the growth of the Peninsula Shield Force, and the two projects: chain of cooperation; and secure communication.
Highlighting the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in effecting Gulf cohesion and cooperation among GCC states, the Ministers renewed their support to the UAE in its legitimate demand regarding the issue of the three islands of Abu Moussa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, calling on the Iranian government to approach its problem with the UAE in a brotherly and Islamic spirit. The Ministers underscored the importance of working towards stability in the Arabian Gulf within the framework of common interests, joint ties, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs. They backed the measures undertaken by the Bahraini government to defend its internal security and stability, and condemned the continuing detention of Kuwaitis and others in Iraq, calling on all necessary efforts to be exerted for their release in accordance with international resolutions.
Prince Sultan, in his speech on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and his government, thanking the participants for attending the meeting, noted that the GCC is a living model for Arab and Muslim cooperation, saying: "Whatever has been said about any marginal differences among the GCC states is nonsense and false. The response to such sayings by certain malicious people should be for us to opt for productive and beneficial action." Prince Sultan expressed the wish that the GCC continue to serve Islam and the Muslims as well as its citizens, and called on the armed forces to continue their useful training and joint military exercises.
Asked at a press conference following the meeting about the commitment of the Saudi government to the families of the victims of the Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) plane involved in yesterday's midair collision, Prince Sultan affirmed that the patronage of the sons of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is always an important and basic part of the policy of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, saying: "The highest degree of suffering was felt by King Fahd and by the Crown Prince on learning about this disaster." Prince Sultan reassured all travelers on the technical safety of SAA planes, and stated: "There was no technical error." He added that a plane had been made ready to transport home the bodies of the victims.
In response to a question on the joint maneuvers program, notably the Peninsula Shield Force exercises scheduled for next year, Prince Sultan said: "These are … approved by the Council. We pray to God that they will go ahead according to plan." Concerning development of the force, he said that the GCC states are continuing their work in stages in this respect.
Questioned on his visit to Bahrain, Prince Sultan said: "Bahrain is an Arab, Muslim, and Gulf country. ….. Bahrain realizes the benefit of solidarity and the benefit of the Arab Nation." Commenting on the joint Saudi-Yemeni military committee, Prince Sultan said the everything is moving on the right track.