First Ministerial Meeting of GCC-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum concludes

April 1, 2012

The First Ministerial Meeting of the Strategic Cooperation Forum between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states and the United States was concluded in Riyadh yesterday. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the current Chairman of the GCC Ministerial Council, led the GCC delegation to the meeting, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the U.S. side. The meeting was also attended by GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdul-Latif Al-Zayani.

At the end of session, a joint statement was issued explaining the aims of the new endeavor and summarizing the day’s deliberations. The GCC-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum “aims to develop an official framework for mutual strategic cooperation in political, military, security and economic fields,” the statement read. “The two sides are seeking through the forum to discuss key strategic issues, achieve common interests, coordinate efforts to support security and stability in the Middle East, and strengthen relations between the GCC member states and the United States in all fields.”

During the inaugural meeting, the ministers agreed that GCC-U.S. cooperation should be strengthened and utilized to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity. They welcomed the progress made on a framework agreement for cooperation between the GCC member states and the U.S. in the fields of trade, economy, investment and technical cooperation.

Furthermore, the ministers discussed the challenges facing the Gulf region, including the spread of nuclear weapons, ballistic missile technology, terrorism and threats to navigation. They stressed the importance of respecting the principles of sovereignty, independence and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The statement stressed that Syria remains key to the stability and welfare of the Middle East. It denounced the deadly violence that has been unleashed by the Syrian regime against civilians, demanding that the killing end and humanitarian aid be allowed to reach the victims. The ministers reiterated their support for the mission of U.N.-Arab League Joint Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan and urged him to set a timetable for compliance. They also advocated adherence to the Arab League resolution that called for the peaceful transition of power based on the aspirations of the Syrian people.