The foreign ministers of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held their 94th session in Riyadh yesterday, and at a press conference today, expressed the hope that the GCC talks with the European Union (EU) scheduled for April 5, 2005, will produce a Free Trade Agreement. There has long been discussion on this, and there is a good change of the goal being achieved at that meeting.
Also under review was the issue of the three UAE islands controlled by Iran, and it was pointed out that this issue should be settled peacefully. The GCC ministers declared that the elections in Iraq show the rest of the world as well as Iraqis that the country is in the process of handing over power to its citizens; wholeheartedly welcomed the new Palestinian government and pledged its support and solidarity for the well-being of the Palestinian people; offered condolences on the death of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Al-Hariri; and commended Syria for the graceful withdrawal of its troops from Beirut.
The GCC ministers congratulated Saudi Arabia on the successful start of its first nationwide municipal elections, and praised the Kingdom’s efforts not only in fighting terrorists but also in proposing an international counter-terrorism center.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Bahrain's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shaikh Muhammad bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa. Also present were Oman's Foreign Affairs Minister Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Noami, and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Shaikh Dr. Muhammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman Al-Atiyyah.