2005 Public Statement

Communiqué of 96th GCC foreign ministers meeting
The foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a communique on September 6 at the conclusion of their 96th meeting, held in Jeddah.

The Ministerial Council expressed its condolences on the death of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz; to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz; and to the people of Saudi Arabia. The Council went on to express congratulations and best wishes to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and his trusted Crown Prince, Sultan bin Abdulaziz on assuming the leadership in the Kingdom; and praised the determination of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to continue his serious efforts serving Islam and supporting Arab and Islamic causes as well as enhancing international peace and security and promoting global economic growth.

The Council also congratulated Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the success of the surgery he underwent and his safe return home from abroad, wishing him good health.

The Council then reviewed the achievements of joint GCC cooperation since the last session as well as progress in political and security issues regionally and internationally.

On the economy, the Council reviewed reports and minutes of the meetings of a number of committees related to joint economic work. On communications, postal services and information technology, the Council was briefed on recommendations on a system of pricing for GCC communications companies. On commerce, the Council was informed on the results of the mission of the trade cooperation committee with regard to trademarks and commercial fraud. On planning and development, the Council was updated as regards population policies, procedures and programs adopted by the GCC states to amend the population structure as well as prospects for issuing a report on the growth of human resources and conducting a study to establish a GCC statistics center. On transportation, the Council was briefed on resolutions passed by the committee’s 9th session, including prospects for the construction of a communal GCC railroad system, and studies to establish a GCC shipping company.

As regards relations with other countries and international bodies, the Council was briefed on, and expressed its satisfaction on the outcome of, the second round of negotiations between the GCC states and China and on the meeting of experts held in Beijing on June 20 and 21, 2005 within the framework of bilateral free trade negotiations.

The Council also reviewed aspects of issues relating to human welfare and the protection of the environment, including implementation of resolutions and directives on education issued by the Supreme Council in its 25th session. On protecting the health of human beings and the environment from the impact of ozone as well as to support national, regional and international efforts within the framework of the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol, the Council recommended the adoption of an integrated and guided system to control materials that contain ozone, referring this matter to the upcoming session of the Supreme Council of the GCC.

On defense, the Council was briefed on the progress of cooperation activities in this area, and expressed its satisfaction over steps that had been taken so far, affirming completion of all related procedures and various arrangements. On security coordination and cooperation, the Council was briefed on procedures that had already been undertaken by the GCC states and expressed its satisfaction over these procedures.
The Council expressed its sorrow and condemnation over acts of terrorism witnessed by a number of countries around the world, and reiterated that such criminal acts will only further enhance the global will to combat terrorism and promote international cooperation to eliminate it and those who are behind it. It also welcomed and re-affirmed its support for the Declaration of Riyadh and the recommendations adopted by the Counter-Terrorism International Conference, notably the proposal by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to establish an international counter-terrorism center, saying this would contribute positively to international efforts against terrorism. In this regard, the Council supported efforts aimed at forming a working team to study the recommendations which had been included in the proposed declaration relating to the establishment of the Center under the supervision of the United Nations.
On the operations of the consultative body of the GCC Supreme Council, the Council was briefed concerning evaluation of the GCC’s progress over the past 23 years.

The Council then congratulated Iranian President Mehmud Ahmadi Nejad on his victory in the presidential election and said it is anticipating that the upcoming period will bring about positive developments in GCC-Iranian relations within the framework of good neighborly ties, joint interests and non-interference in the internal affairs of others. It expressed optimism that Iran would opt for remarkable steps to enhance trust that could lead to accomplishing security and stability as well as ensuring welfare for all the peoples in the region. The Council also discussed a number of important regional and international issues and reaffirmed its well-known and lasting stances in this regard. It supported the right of the United Arab Emirates for sovereignty over its three islands, namely Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Mousa as well as the territorial waters of and the space above the continental enclave, and the economic zone of the three islands as indivisible parts of the United Arab Emirates. The Council expressed sorrow that contacts with Iran had failed to produce any positive results that could have led to finding a solution to the issue of these three islands and contributing to strengthening the region's security and stability. The Council took into consideration all peaceful means that could lead to the restoration of the right of the UAE to its three islands. It invited Iran to respond to the efforts of the UAE and the international community to resolve this issue through direct negotiations or refer this to the International Court of Justice.

As regards Iraq, the Council reviewed current events, including the deteriorating security and the human situation there as a result of the escalating violence. It reaffirmed its known and permanent positions on Iraq, especially its condemnation of all criminal and terrorist acts targeting civilians and abducting innocent people, even ambassadors, and members of the diplomatic corps, and of humanitarian and religious bodies. It supported all efforts exerted towards bringing about Iraq's national reconciliation and ensuring the participation of all factions of the Iraqi people in the political process to avoid a negative impact on Iraq's integrity, independence and sovereignty. The Council renewed its hope that the Iraqi people would be united to achieve security, stability, prosperity and the national territorial integrity as well as to preserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Iraq and ensure its return as an effective member of the Arab World and of the international community. It also expressed the hope that Iraq would be restored to its security, stability, and prosperity and return to play its positive role as an effective member in Gulf, Arab and international arenas by committing to the United Nations resolutions and living in peace and harmony with its neighbors and the rest of the world. The Council condemned the acts of the previous Iraqi regime, resulting in the mass killings of the Iraqi people, taking of hostages and detaining people from Kuwait and other countries. It urged the United Nations to forge cooperation with the Iraqi government and other concerned parties to intensify efforts to find a final solution pertaining to the return of Kuwaiti property and national heritage items and documents that had been stolen by the former Iraqi regime during its occupation of Kuwait.

The Council also reviewed the latest events in the Palestinian territories and developments in the Middle East peace process. It looked forward to the evacuation of the Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip as a step to be followed by other steps for the complete withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian lands to enable the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with Al-Quds [East Jerusalem] as its capital. The Council reiterated, in this regard, the adherence of the GCC states to the peace initiative presented by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz at the Arab Summit held in Beirut in 2002 and adopted by the Summit to become an Arab initiative for peace in the region on the basis of the United Nations

Resolutions. This initiative, it declared, should be considered as a genuine framework for achieving a just and comprehensive peace for the cause of the Palestinians. Warning against threats raised by an extremist Jewish group to raid and attack Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Council affirmed that such threats are aimed at insulting the feelings of Muslims and violating the sanctity of the Holy Sites. It confirmed that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East will not be realized unless an independent Palestinian state is established with Al-Quds [East Jerusalem] as its capital and Israel withdraws from the occupied Arab Syrian Golan Heights to the borders of the 4th June, 1967 as well as from the remaining Arab lands in southern Lebanon.

The Council renewed its call on the international community to make the Middle East region free from all weapons of mass destruction, including the Gulf region, and to put pressure on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and submit all its nuclear installations to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), considering this as a basic condition for any future security arrangements.

The Council welcomed the new Lebanese government and confirmed the desire of the GCC states to support the brotherly Lebanese people politically and economically as well as Lebanon's security and stability. It expressed the hope that all national factions would agree on what is good for preserving Lebanon's integrity, cohesion and prosperity, and condemned Israel’s repeated threats and attacks against Lebanon's sovereignty and independence.

The Council concluded by expressing sorrow and condolences for Iraq and its people over the collapse of the Al-Ayma bridge that led to the death of hundreds of Iraqis. It also expressed sorrow and condolences over the loss of life and property caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana in the United States. The Council expressed its readiness to stand by the United States in this natural disaster in the light of the friendly ties between it and the GCC states.