Forum on U.S.-GCC strategic cooperation held in New York
September 30, 2012
Foreign Ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in the 2nd ministerial meeting of the Forum of Strategic Cooperation between the GCC and U.S. at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York last night. The meeting was chaired on the GCC side by Saudi Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. The Forum was established on March 31, 2012 with the aim of promoting cooperation between the GCC and the U.S. in the political, economic, security and military fields.
The ministers discussed ways of deepening and broadening relations between the two sides, while also reviewing the latest regional developments. After the deliberations, a statement was released addressing a wide range of issues. It praised the many joint initiatives between the GCC states and the U.S., including:
- The formation of a joint security committee to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and to strengthen the security of borders and territorial waters
- The signing, on September 25, 2012 in New York, of the Framework Agreement for economic, trade, investment and technical cooperation
- Efforts to strengthen defense capabilities in the Gulf region to maintain freedom of navigation in international waterways and deter any threats to close the Strait of Hormuz or disrupt regional or international trade
- Steps taken to establish a navigational operations center in Bahrain with U.S. participation
- Increased joint air and sea military movements, multilateral de-mining exercises, and improvement of regional air and missile defenses
- Expanded cooperation to combat the spread of nuclear weapons
The statement condemned the movie mocking the Prophet Muhammad and criticized attempts to defame religions. It also stressed the rejection of all forums of terrorism and extremism and denounced the attacks on the foreign missions of the U.S. and other countries in recent weeks.
With regard to Syria, the statement expressed concern over the mounting humanitarian crisis and condemned the use of force and collective punishment by the Syrian regime. Denouncing the indiscriminate shelling and the use of warplanes and helicopters against civilians, it reiterated the call for President Bashar Al-Assad to step down and make way for a democratic transition. The ministers also expressed concern over the implications of the crisis on the wider region, including the difficulties experienced by Syria’s neighbors in accommodating thousands of refugees.
The statement criticized Iran for its military and financial support for the Assad regime. It also called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program. Furthermore, the two sides expressed deep concern over Iran’s continuing intervention in the internal affairs of GCC states.
Addressing other regional issues, the statement stressed the importance of working towards a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, based around a two-state solution; voiced strong support for Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his new government; and affirmed the commitment of the GCC and the U.S. to Egypt’s stability, security and economic success.