The Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) today concluded its 70th session, and expressed sorrow and anxiety at the Iraqi government's continuing defiance of the United Nations resolutions in turning down the UN Security Council's proposal for the formation of three committees to evaluate Iraqi-UN relations, as well as refusing to cooperate with UN bodies assigned to inspect weapons of mass destruction that constitute a threat to Iraq and its people as well as to security and stability in the region and the entire world. The Council holds the Iraqi regime responsible for the sufferings of the Iraqi people and deplores its baseless allegations and direct threats against both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; such threats ignored the Arab and international will and violate UN resolution 949, the June 1996 Arab Summit in Cairo, and the statement of the Arab foreign ministers issued in Cairo on January 24, 1999 that called for avoidance of any provocative act against Kuwait and the neighboring countries.
The Council urged the international community to condemn Iraq's aggressive behavior and force it to comply with all UN resolutions, in particular those pertaining to the restoration of Kuwaiti property and the release of prisoners of war, both Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti. The Council called on Iraq to prove its peaceful intentions towards Kuwait and the neighboring countries in word and in deed, by announcing that its invasion of Kuwait constituted a violation of Arab and international conventions. The Council reiterated its sympathy with the Iraqi people, holding the Iraqi regime responsible for their sufferings and endorsing preservation of Iraq's independence and territorial integrity.
On the issue of the three islands, the Council called on Iran to respond positively to the call of President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the countries of the Damascus Declaration, the League of Arab States, and other regional and international organizations, for a peaceful settlement to the dispute in line with global convention and the rules of international law, either through direct negotiations or by resorting to the International Court of Justice. The Council endorsed UAE's sovereignty over the three islands, urging Iran to end its occupation of them and to stop setting up installations that change their demographic characteristics. Recalling Iran's military maneuvers on the occupied islands and in the territorial waters of the UAE, the Council called on Iran to cease such provocative acts, which constitute a flagrant violation of UAE sovereignty and a threat to regional and global security and stability. The Council made it clear that it is high time for Iran to prove its credibility by taking practical measures to solve these problems in line with international norms.
Concerning the Middle East peace process, the Council expressed anxiety at its setback due to Israel's failure to honor the Wye Plantation Agreement signed on October 23, 1998 by the Palestinians and the Israelis under the patronage of the United States of America. The Council deplored the provocative settlement policy being practiced by Israel in the occupied Arab territories, and Israeli attempts to change the demographic characteristics of Jerusalem, declaring that such practices constitute violation of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations. The Council called on Israel to put an end to its expansionist policy, saying peace will never be realized without restoration of the usurped Arab rights in line with UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 425 and the principle of land for peace, as well as the establishment of the Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The Council also called for Israel to withdraw from the Syrian Golan Heights and from southern Lebanon.
The Council expressed appreciation of the efforts exerted by the United States, by Russia, and by the European Union in support of the Middle East peace process, and called on these countries to put pressure on Israel until it honors its obligations, including the Wye Plantation Agreement, and resumes negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. The Council praised the decision of the European Union to refuse to recognize Jerusalem, even its western part, as the capital of Israel.
Turning to Kosovo, the Council called on the international community to take appropriate measures for ending the bloodshed practiced by the Serb forces.
The Council also called on the international community to work to make the Middle East region, including the Gulf, free of all weapons of mass destruction, underscoring the importance of Israel signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Council deplored all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism, saying these constitute a threat to the security, safety and stability of all countries and their citizens and residents. The Council reiterated the determination of all GCC member states to confront this phenomenon through cooperation and coordination, and urged other countries to take the necessary steps to uproot this dangerous phenomenon. The Council made it clear that the best way to combat terrorism comes through international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations.