The Ministerial Council of Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held its 60th meeting on September 7 and 8, 1996 in Riyadh. The meeting, chaired by Omani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yousif Bin Alawi, was attended by Foreign Ministers Sheikh Mohammad Ibn Mubarak Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Saud Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani of Qatar, Rashid Bin Abdullah Al-Nuaimi of the United Arab Emirates, and Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait.
Reviewing a number of political, economic and security issues as well as the latest developments in Arab and international arenas, the Council praised the visit to Yemen of Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, and its positive outcome concerning bilateral relations and channels of cooperation between the two brotherly countries for the mutual interests of their people in the light of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salih.
Implementation of UN Resolutions related to the Iraqi Aggression on Kuwait: Reviewing the dangerous situation in northern Iraq, the Council expressed its deep anxiety at its impact on the region as well as its threat to international peace and stability, and strongly condemned interference in Iraq's internal affairs by certain neighboring countries, calling on these states to cease immediately, and reaffirming an unwavering stand for the preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and regional safety. At the same time, the Council expressed support and appreciation for the efforts of those states which have taken measures to implement the UN Security Council's resolution pertaining to Iraqi aggression on the State of Kuwait, particularly for the release of Kuwaiti prisoners and detainees, and urged Iraq to return property, to commit to the process of compensation, and to cooperate fully with the special committee for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. The Council further affirmed the necessity for Iraq to respect Security Council Resolution 986 of 1995 and the memorandum of understanding signed on May 20, 1996 for humanitarian and medical aid to lessen the suffering of the Iraqi people.
Relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran: Reviewing the latest developments between the GCC and Iran, the Ministerial Council observed that the Iranian government continues to pursue measures aimed at consolidating its occupation of the UAE islands of Lesser and Greater Tunbs and Abu Musa by force, including the establishment on August 31, 1996 of a storage facility and a fishery on Abu Musa, an act which shows Iranian insistence on provocative and unjustified steps. The Council expressed its deep regret over Iran's constant rejection of the serious and repeated calls made by the UAE, the GCC, the Damascus Declaration States, the Arab League Council and the Arab Summit Conference for a peaceful resolution to the problem. It deplored the Iranian measures affecting the islands and the negative consequences they have, which represent a violation of the UAE's sovereignty and rights as well as a threat to the security and stability of the region, in contravention of the principles and rules of international law, the United Nations Charter, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the principle of good neighborliness as well as respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states of the region, and called on Iran to put an end to all unilateral measures on the islands and follow peaceful means to resolve the existing conflict including acceptance of transferring the issue to the International Court of Justice. Furthermore, the Council expressed concern over Iran's build up of weapons of mass destruction, and called on the international community to initiate effective efforts to keep the strategically important Gulf region free from them.
As for the state of Bahrain, the Council expressed its full satisfaction over the calmness and stability it enjoys as a result of wise measures undertaken by it to ensure security and stability, supported by the GCC States, the Arab League and the recently held Arab Summit in Cairo. It underlined the importance of respect for the principles of good neighborliness among the states of the region and non-interference in domestic affairs as a necessity to ensure security and stability in the region.
Middle East Peace Process: Referring to the latest developments in the Middle East peace process, the Council expressed hope that the meetings between the concerned parties would positively reactivate the peace process, and expressed anxiety over the announced direction of the Israeli government, which focuses on strengthening Israeli occupation of the Arab territories and annexation of East Jerusalem, rejecting both the establishment of the Palestinian state and withdrawal from Golan, and maintaining and expanding Jewish settlements in the Arab territories, a policy that will lead to the breakdown of the peace process and a return to tension with all its dangers and ramifications. The Council expressed the hope that Israel would work, in a serious and committed manner without delays and free from confrontational language, towards a comprehensive peace in which legitimate rights for all parties can be regained, an equal and balanced security ensured for all the states of the region and a stage of sound economic and social development begun.
The Council reaffirmed that a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East requires Israel to withdraw fully from all occupied Palestinian territories including Arab Jerusalem, and to allow the Palestinian people to set up their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. It also called for full Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Arab Golan to the June 4, 1967 line, as well as from southern Lebanon and western Bekaa to the internationally recognized border, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 425 and the principle of land for peace. Calling for the resumption of negotiations on all tracks, the Council, while thanking the EU, the G-7 summit, the OIC conference and the non-aligned summit for their supportive stand on peace in the Middle East, urged the two sponsors, the United Sates and Russia, to keep exerting their utmost efforts to ensure the continuity of the peace process, and reiterated its call for the international community to fulfill its commitment to offer economic assistance to the Palestinian people. The Council also called on Israel to join the non-proliferation treaty for the nuclear weapons, reaffirming its demand to keep the Middle East including the Gulf region free from weapons of mass destruction.
The phenomena of extremism, violence and terrorism: The Ministerial Council deplored all kinds of terrorism, regarding it as a global phenomenon, not limited to a specific people or region, and called on the international community to coordinate its efforts to put an end to violent and terrorist acts and ensure that their perpetrators are brought to justice, urging an end to the use of the territories of any state by terrorist elements in terms of financing, arming and permitting them to address the media for the purposes of propaganda, violence and terrorism. The Council affirmed its condemnation of the criminal explosion that took place in Al-Khobar on June 25, 1996, and its full support to Saudi Arabia in combating terrorism, expressing its confidence in the ability of the Saudi security forces to face such terrorist acts and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Council also supported Bahrain for its measures to ensure security and stability, saying this support emanates from the principle of a common destiny. The Council underlined the importance of cooperation among the GCC States to face malicious media campaigns against any of its member states and the necessity to adhere to the information honor code.
The Yemeni /Eritrean Conflict over Hanish: The Council expressed its satisfaction over the Eritrean withdrawal from Lesser Hanish and the stand to solve the dispute peacefully through international arbitration.
Developments in Bosnia: The Council underlined the importance of serious and effective implementation of the Dayton Accord for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Economic Affairs: In the economic sphere, the Council reviewed a number of memoranda of various ministerial committees and decided to hold the eighth joint meeting of the economic and financial cooperation committee in October of 1996 to review the unified customs tariffs. Briefed by the General Secretariat on the outcome of the first meeting of the economic working teams of the GCC and the United States which was held in Washington from June 26 to 28, 1996, the Council approved the continuation of these trade and investment exchanges.