Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, addressed the 17th summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Doha today, and stressed the strategic importance of the region and the fact that it affects and is affected by regional and international developments. He praised the courage, wisdom and profound cooperation shown in facing the challenges of building a unified GCC in the spheres of politics, economics, security and defense. The Crown Prince called on the GCC member states to adopt a unified position towards the common dangers and challenges and work toward that end with a confident and optimistic spirit.
The Crown Prince then pointed to the recognition that there is no place in today's world for small and weak entities, and since conflict is natural among human societies a genuine method of resolving conflicts is to promote tolerance and mitigate problems rather than overemphasizing them. Any specific conflict should be dealt with within its confines so that a single negative development will not multiply into many disputes. We should be able to tolerate limited differences of opinion, but it is difficult to endure infinite disagreements.
Referring to the startling developments of the coming era Prince Abdullah said its pressing challenges presuppose the mobilization of our intellectual and innovative potentialities in order to establish a state of welfare and development.
Turning to the functions of the GCC, the Crown Prince said that top priority should be given to the education, training and employment of the youth, and that establishment of a Common Market in the Gulf is inevitable, adding that he hoped the GCC would step forward in the direction of building a strong economy capable of competing in international markets.
Warning against the menace of terrorism, Prince Abdullah said the phenomenon runs counter to the teachings of all religions. He called for strict measures against it because "leniency with terrorism will make it eager and greedy for the committing of further crimes." He underlined the importance of making the necessary arrangements to ensure security and stability in the GCC member states and hoped that the recommendations submitted by the GCC ministers of defense and interior in this respect be heeded so as to safeguard the great achievements in the development arena.
Prince Abdullah regretted the continued sufferings of the Iraqi people and urged the Iraqi government to cooperate with the UN in the proper implementation of UN resolution 986 to alleviate the ordeal of its people. The tragedy of the Iraqi people has been prolonged due to the intransigence and arrogance of the Iraqi regime which failed to implement the UN resolutions in an accurate and full manner.
With regard to Iran, Prince Abdullah referred to the bonds of religion, history and geographic reality that link the GCC with Iran and added: "We are anxious to further enhance our relations with Iran, hoping that Iran will share these feelings with us, positively respond to our calls, and refrain from the threatening policy of forcing the status quo." He urged Iran to settle its dispute with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through peaceful means in line with international law, saying such a development will pave the way for a new era of cooperation and relations based on the principle of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs.
Turning to the Middle East, Prince Abdullah said peace would never be realized without the restoration of the occupied Arab territories and the establishment of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. While reiterating the support of the GCC to the ongoing efforts to realize peace, he made it clear that any speech about the normalization of relations prior to this is meaningless.
Regarding the ongoing factional fighting in Afghanistan and Somalia he expressed the concern of the GCC to see these disputes settled in an amicable way.
Reflecting on the Kingdom's Islamic responsibility, Prince Abdullah deplored the quarters which attempt to project Islam as the new enemy of the West and said that history stands as a witness that Islamic civilization is characterized by tolerance and yielding positive results.