Foreign minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal led the Saudi delegation at the 63rd session of the GCC Ministerial Council, which concluded its deliberations in Riyadh yesterday under the chairmanship of Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Ibn Jassem Ibn Jabr Al-Thani. Also attending were UAE foreign minister Rashid Al-Nuaimi, Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Omani foreign minister Yousef Ibn Alawi Ibn Abdullah, Kuwaiti minister of state for cabinet affairs Abdul Aziz Al-Dakheel, and GCC Secretary-General Sheik Jameel Ibrahim Al-Hujeilan.
The ministerial council reviewed developments since their 62nd session last March, in the process of the GCC's joint cooperation as well as in the situation at regional and international levels.
Concerning Iraq, the council reaffirmed its stance that Iraq must comply fully with all of the UN resolutions pertaining to its invasion of Kuwait, most notably those on the release of Kuwaiti detainees and on serious cooperation with the committee on weapons of mass destruction, and underlined the importance of UN resolution 949. The council voiced satisfaction at the improved living and health conditions of the Iraqi people and the alleviation of their suffering as a result of implementation of UN resolution 986, "oil for food". However, the council expressed extreme anxiety over the recent military movements and operations in the north of Iraq, and called on Turkey to withdraw its forces and refrain from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.
Concerning Iran's occupation of the three islands belonging to the UAE, the council voiced extreme sorrow that Iran continues to ignore repeated calls to settle this dispute peacefully in accordance with the rules of international law, including referral to the international court of justice. At the same time, the council discussed the establishment of relations with Iran based on good neighborliness, reciprocal respect, and non-interference in the internal affairs of others. In view of the results of the recent presidential elections in Iran, the council looks forward to practical steps being taken by Iran to build up confidence and restore these relations in order to realize security, stability and the well-being of all the peoples of the region.
Remarking on the continuing deterioration of the peace process in the Middle East and the aggravation resulting from the aggressive policies and provocative acts of the Israeli government, which insists on the construction of new settlements in the Holy City of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), the council noted with concern Israel's refusal to meet its obligations regarding the implementation of the agreements it signed with the Palestinian Authority. The council reiterated its stance that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs necessitates that Israel comply fully with all agreements including those of the Madrid Conference, the land-for-peace formula, and UN resolutions 242, 338, and 425, in order to restore to the Palestinian people their legitimate rights including establishment of an independent state on their national territory with Al-Quds as its capital; and that Israel withdraw fully from the occupied Golan Heights and the southern part of Lebanon. In addition, the council called on the U.S. government to exert its influence in its role as sponsor of the peace process in accordance with the principles and guarantees agreed upon, and underscored the necessity for Israel's signature on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Turning to joint cooperation within the GCC, the council reviewed and adopted a number of recommendations from the various working committees on finance and economy; on communications; on the environment; on youth and sports; and on security and defense.