The joint ministerial council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union (EU) held their seventh session in Doha today, and issued a communique that described the meeting as successful, saying the participants achieved positive and constructive results to enhance political and economic cooperation between the two sides.
Expressing satisfaction over developments in the political ties of the GCC and the EU, the statement declared confidence in their trade and investment cooperation as constituting a well-built basis for developing and improving economic ties between the two groups. The GCC members briefed their European counterparts on the progress realized by the GCC states to unify the customs tariff and set up a joint customs union as soon as the free trade agreement is ready for signing.
The participants welcomed the intensive and well-planned program of talks to be held during 1997, and were hopeful that these would reach completion by next year in compliance with the recommendations of the sixth session of the council held in Luxembourg in April 1996. They called on negotiators to intensify efforts and said the proposed free trade agreement would not only benefit the two sides, but would conform with the requirements of the World Trade Organization. The EEU for their part expressed support for the bids of the GCC states to join the WTO.
The joint council approved proposals made by the joint cooperation committee for finding better conditions for investment, and welcomed the resumption of talks on forging cooperation in the area of customs, recommending that two more training symposia be held this year similar to the one organized in Riyadh last October. The two sides also approved the resolutions of the natural gas conference held in Doha last November concerning the organization of future European gas imports from the GCC states.
The statement expressed the hope that the successful model of the Jubail project for the protection of maritime and land wildlife could be implemented elsewhere in the Gulf. The communique also underlined the necessity for cooperation on information and on higher education. It cited the need for cooperation and co-existence among the countries of the Gulf region on the basis of mutual respect under the aegis of international law. While endorsing the rights of countries to obtain means of self-defense, it expressed concern over unjustified efforts to obtain arms under the pretext of legal defense rights. Finally, the communique called on Iraq to implement all UN resolutions including Resolution 667 calling for the liberation of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other detainees, and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.