In Abu Dhabi last night, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, who is heading the Kingdom's delegation to the 19th Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), received Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan and his accompanying delegation. He also met with the Emir of Bahrain Sheikh Isa Ibn Salman Al-Khalifa. Today, he received South African President Nelson Mandela and his accompanying delegation. He also paid a visit to Sultan Qaboos Ibn Saeed of Oman, and received Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
[communiqué of 19th GCC Summit]
[SPA report on achievements of GCC]
In his address to the 19th GCC Summit yesterday, Crown Prince Abdullah called for the establishment of a unified Gulf economy that can compete with major economic blocs, saying: "A unified Gulf market cannot be established without a unified customs union, and this union can only emerge through unified customs tariffs." He called on the GCC leaders to set a time limit of not more than one year for completion of this customs union. Commenting that the downward trend in oil prices has affected the revenues of each member state in the GCC, he said the situation requires an optimum level of effort from all oil-producing states, both within and outside OPEC, in order to bring balance to the oil market. He remarked: "The GCC governments and peoples should realize that the boom period is over. We must all get used to a certain type of lifestyle that does not rely entirely on the state. The upcoming period needs the private sector to assume part of the responsibility which has up until now been carried by the state." The Crown Prince went on to urge the GCC states to take a serious and firm stand in the multi-lateral talks that are to be held in the year 2000 within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Expressing deep concern over the suffering of the Iraqi people, Crown Prince Abdullah stated that the GCC states are concerned with ending the sanctions imposed against Iraq. This, he said, cannot be done unless the Iraqi government implements all the UN Security Council resolutions that followed the liberation of Kuwait. He affirmed that the GCC states aspire to closer relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which, he said, is demonstrating "a similar positive spirit in working with the GCC to end all outstanding problems amicably and tolerantly, through fruitful and constructive dialogue". In this way a peaceful solution can be found for the issue of the three UAE islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa.
Crown Prince Abdullah expressed hope that the Wye Memorandum signed between the Palestinians and the Israelis would be a step towards returning the peace process to its right direction on all tracks, but voiced concern over Israel's judaization of the holy city of Al-Quds [Jerusalem], affirming that preservation of its identity is a sacred duty.
Referring to the Arab anti-terrorism agreement signed in Cairo on April 22, 1998, the Crown Prince urged all the countries of the world to fight terrorism and work to establish an international agreement within the framework of the United Nations guaranteeing cooperation in putting an end to this phenomenon.