GCC Ministerial Council holds 128th regular session in Jeddah
September 10, 2013
The Ministerial Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states held its 128th regular session at the Jeddah Conference Palace today. The participants included Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al -Faisal; Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah; UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Qarqash; Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa; Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Atiyyah; Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah; and GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al- Zayani.
After their consultations, the Foreign Ministers issued a statement touching on a number of regional issues:
The Council welcomed the initiative of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa to establish an Arab human rights court, which will be headquartered in Bahrain.
Regarding counterterrorism, the Council reiterated the GCC states’ firm renunciation of terrorism and extremism in all their forms, regardless of motivations. It condemned the recent attacks in Bahrain and expressed support for that country’s efforts to end the violence and maintain stability. The Council also denounced the attack against the UAE’s embassy in Libya, stressing the importance of protecting diplomatic missions. Finally, it condemned the recent bombings in Beirut, calling on all Lebanese parties to refrain from involvement in the Syrian crisis and to expedite the formation of a new Lebanese government.
On the topic of Iran, the Council expressed hope that the country’s new president, Hasan Rohani, will contribute to improving GCC-Iranian relations, on the basis of respect for sovereignty and a refrain from the use or threat of force. In this context, it rejected Iran’s occupation of three islands belonging to the UAE. Regarding Iran’s nuclear program, it called for a peaceful solution to the crisis in line with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Addressing the Syrian conflict, the Council expressed its great concern over the continuing humanitarian tragedy being inflicted upon the Syrian people by the Assad regime. It pointed out the flagrant human rights abuses being committed, including the terrible chemical weapons attacks against Damascus neighborhoods. The Council condemned the foreign forces, led by Hezbollah militias, who are assisting the Syrian government in killing thousands of people and destroying cities. Warning of the serious regional consequences of the conflict, the statement called upon the international community to punish and deter these terrible actions, despite the Syrian regime’s attempts to gain time to continue its oppression. It also welcomed the election of Ahmed Asi Al-Jarba as President of the National Coalition for the Revolution’s Forces and Syrian Opposition, wishing him every success.
Turning to Egypt, the Council expressed confidence in the actions of the Egyptian government and people, categorically rejecting foreign interference into the country’s domestic affairs. It confirmed that the GCC countries stand firmly by Egypt’s side.
On the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Council reaffirmed that a comprehensive, fair and permanent peace will not be reached unless Israel withdraws completely from the Arab territories occupied in 1967. It called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and international agreements and resolutions. The Council welcomed the diplomatic efforts being exerted by the United States to get the Palestinians and Israelis involved in direct negotiations, while condemning the counterproductive and illegal Israeli settlement building.
Regarding Yemen, the Council reviewed the implementation of the GCC initiative and its executive mechanism and reiterated its support for the efforts being exerted by Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the national reconciliation government to make the comprehensive national dialogue conference a success.
Moving on to Iraq, the Council called on certain Iraqi parties to end their interference into the domestic affairs of GCC states. It also denounced the frequent bombings carried out in Iraqi cities, resulting in numerous deaths. Finally, the Council welcomed Iraq’s cooperation in the implementation of Security Council resolutions regarding outstanding issues with Kuwait.