The foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concluded their 82nd session in Riyadh today under the chairmanship of Omani minister in charge of foreign affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, and issued a statement read by Secretary-General Jameel bin Ibrahim Al-Hujailan. The statement congratulated King Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa on the proclamation of Bahrain as a constitutional kingdom, and welcomed the signing of an agreement on diplomatic and consular cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain. It also congratulated Emir of Kuwait Shaikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah on his safe return home, wishing him good health and progress and prosperity to the people of Kuwait.
The GCC foreign ministers praised the initiative of Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, pointing out that it comes within the historical context of support for political action at the international level and the desire of all Arab countries to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East region. They resolved to mobilize support for this initiative from the international community led by the United Nations, the United States, the Russian Federation, and the European Union, in order to protect the opportunity for peace, put an end to the bloodshed and destruction, promote coexistence between Israel and the Arab countries, and assure security, stability and prosperity for the coming generations.
In the field of economic cooperation, the council reviewed recommendations from the various committees, notably those on housing, on removal of obstacles to e-commerce, and on steps taken to set up the customs union by January 1, 2003. The council resolved to set up a committee for water resources, and discussed a proposal to turn the Jubail research and development center into a regional center for desalination research. Approval was given for procedures to start up the regional electric power authority with headquarters in Dammam.
On political issues, the council reiterated its resolutions concerning Kuwait and Iraq, calling on Iraq to implement fully the obligations of the UN Security Council including respect for Kuwait's security, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and welcoming the resumption of dialogue between Iraq and the UN towards implementation of all relevant resolutions in order to end the sufferings of the Iraqi people and pave the way for lifting the economic sanctions on Iraq while respecting Iraq's independence, territorial unity and integrity and practicing non-intervention in its internal affairs. The council also reiterated its position on the full sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates on the three islands (Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa) occupied by Iran, and on their territorial waters, air space, continental shelf and economic zoning, calling on Iran to accept referral of the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
The ministers expressed great concern over the dangerous deteriorating situation in the occupied Arab Palestinian territories resulting from the Israeli government's use of brutal means of suppression against the Palestinian people, the continuation of siege, the storming of the lands of the Palestinian Authority, the reoccupation of the Palestinian cities and villages, the demolition of houses, the assassination of Palestinian leaders and the detention of the Palestinian President. They warned of keeping silent in the face of this very dangerous situation and its consequences for the security and stability of the region, blaming the Israeli government for the stalemate of the peace process, and expressing full support for the Palestinian Authority and for President Yasser Arafat. They called on all factions of the Palestinian people to support their elected leadership for restoration of all their legitimate rights including that of self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital, and expressed appreciation for the efforts of Emir of Qatar Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to lift the siege imposed on President Arafat. They stressed that a lasting, permanent and just peace will only be achieved by implementation of the relevant UN resolutions, notably 242, 338, and 194, regarding the restoration to the Palestinians of their full rights, the establishment of a Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital, and complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the Lebanese territories. They also stressed the importance of differentiating between legitimate resistance against military occupation and terrorism, which is condemned in all its forms by peace-loving people. Referring to the UN address by U.S. President George W. Bush and that of Secretary of State Colin Powell concerning the establishment of a Palestinian state, they called on the United States to form a new and effective mechanism to implement these concepts.
The GCC foreign ministers again demanded that the international community make the Gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms, and stressed the need for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and subject its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
On the situation between India and Pakistan, the council hoped that they return to reason, self-restraint, and dialogue. On terrorism, the council reiterated its readiness for cooperation with the international community to face this destructive phenomenon, calling for the convening of a world summit to set international bases for the fight against terrorism and stressing the need to differentiate between terrorism and the right of a people to resist foreign occupation and liberate their country. The council urged that Islam not be blamed for any violent acts, which in fact are renounced by the tolerant Islamic faith.