1998 Public Statement

Communiqué of 19th GCC Summit in Abu Dhabi
The Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held its 19th session in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from December 7 to 9, 1998 under the chairmanship of UAE President Sheikh Zaid Ibn Sultan Al-Nahayan, with the attendance of the Emir of Bahrain Sheikh Isa Ibn Salman Al-Khalifa, the Sultan of Oman Sultan Qaboos Ibn Saeed, the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Ibn Khalifa Al-Thani, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, and GCC Secretary-General Sheikh Jaber Ibn Ibrahim Al-Hujeilan.

The GCC Supreme Council reviewed the progress of joint cooperation in the security, military, economic, social and information fields since the 18th session, whose recommendations they studied, and confirmed the determination of the GCC member states to forge ahead in their march towards wider horizons and greater achievements in order to meet the aspirations of their citizens and realize security, stability and development in the region.  The council also conducted a thorough assessment of developments in political and security situations in the region and internationally.
The council paid tribute to President of the Republic of South Africa Nelson Mandela for his attendance at the opening session and praised the valuable speech he made at the event as well as the meetings he held separately with Gulf leaders on the fringes of the conference. The council also praised the role being played by President Mandela in tightening the current distinguished relations between the GCC member states and the Republic of South Africa, and expressed pride in the appreciation reflected by him towards the GCC and its regional and international role, wishing happiness and success for him in his personal and public life in the years to come.   Similarly, the council expressed appreciation of the teleconference from French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac during the opening session, in which he confirmed his country's friendship with the GCC member states.

The council welcomed the participation of Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, praising the meetings he held separately with the GCC leaders, and the speech he delivered at the opening session, in which he expressed support for the activities of the United States and appreciation of the pioneering role assigned to it in international relations to serve the issues of global security and peace as well as economic, social and humanitarian development for all the peoples and countries of the world. The council also expressed pride in the positive remarks made by Secretary-General Annan in regard to the GCC member states, reflecting his respect and appreciation of the GCC and recognizing its importance in the enhancement of security, stability and development in the region.
The council also welcomed the attendance at the opening session of the 19th Summit of Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Dr. Ismat Abdul-Meguid, and Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Dr. Izziddine Al-Iraki, as well as the valuable meetings and consultations they held with the GCC leaders.
Examining the impact of the slump in oil prices on the economies of the GCC member states, the Council reiterated its desire for cooperation in achieving stability in the oil market and emphasized the need for the oil-producing countries to adhere to the commitments made to reduce oil output at their meeting held in June, 1998.  In this respect, the council agreed that the production cuts be extended until the end of 1999, and declared that the GCC countries are prepared to adopt the necessary procedures to restore stability to the market, and have entrusted the Oil Cooperation Committee to intensify contacts to achieve this goal.
Reviewing joint economic cooperation and following up the measures already taken to set up a GCC customs union, the Council endorsed the time frame for this as commencing in March 2001.  The Summit also endorsed a strategic policy for all-round development in the long term for the first quarter of the 21st century, and approved a unified strategy for strengthening industrial development and supporting industrial cooperation.
Concerning Iraq, the council reiterated that the Iraq government should recognize clearly and publicly that the invasion and occupation of the State of Kuwait was a violation of Arab as well as international charters and legitimacy, and a violation of the Charter of the League of Arab States as well as joint Arab defense agreements and the Charter of the United Nations.  It reiterated its call for Iraq to take the necessary steps to verify its peaceful intentions towards the State of Kuwait and towards other neighboring countries, in both word and deed, in order to achieve security and stability for all the countries of the region.  The council confirmed its firm stance, however, regarding preservation of Iraq's independence, and the unity and integrity of its territories.
Concerning the three UAE islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa, after review of the developments of their occupation by Iran, and noting Iran's persistence in unacceptable claims regarding them, the council confirmed anew the importance of a response by the Iranian government to repeated, serious and sincere calls not only from the GCC member states, but also from the Damascus Declaration Group, the Arab League, and other regional and international organizations, calling for a peaceful solution to this dispute in order to give the positive orientation of the government of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami the credibility necessary to build mutual confidence, develop cooperation, and preserve security and stability in the region.  The council therefore reiterated its confirmation of the sovereignty of the UAE over the three islands, and its absolute support for all peaceful measures and means to be taken to restore this sovereignty, demanding that Iran end occupation of the islands, desist from forcibly practicing a status quo policy, halt the establishment of Iranian facilities on the islands with the aim of altering their demographic structure, remove all facilities it has unilaterally installed on the islands, and pursue peaceful means for solving the dispute in accordance with the principles of international law, including resort to transferral of the case to the international court of justice.
As for relations with Iran, the council, after conducting a comprehensive assessment of the outcome of bilateral contacts between Iran and GCC member states since the last GCC summit, in view of the stances of the GCC member states based on concern to establish good relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the basis of good neighborliness, mutual respect, common interests, non-interference in internal affairs, rejection of the use of force or blackmail, and solution of differences through peaceful means.  The council expressed its concern that building confidence be realized on the basis of taking steps in accordance with international norms and solving differences by peaceful means, notably that of Iran's continued occupation of the three UAE islands.   In this context, the council welcomes the efforts being made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reach a framework for negotiations between the UAE and Iran to solve the island dispute, and calls on the Iranian government to respond to his serious efforts to secure stability in the region.
The Summit welcomed the Wye Memorandum between the Palestinians and the Israelis as a significant step towards the return of Arab rights in full and peace and security in the region.  It also commended the efforts of U.S. President Bill Clinton in bringing about this accord, and urged Israel to implement its terms and conditions without delay.  The Supreme Council stressed that the desired peace would prevail only if all legitimate Arab rights are reinstated in the light of the Madrid Agreement, and the land-for-peace principle based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 425, and 426.   It also underscored that a comprehensive and durable peace cannot be brought about without Palestinians getting their legitimate rights including their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands including those of Syria and Lebanon.  It condemned Israel's settlement policies in occupied Arab lands and attempts to change the demographic structure of Jerusalem.
The GCC appealed to the international community to make the Middle East free from all weapons of mass destruction including nuclear warheads, and reiterated its demand that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Condemning all types of extremism, violence and terrorism, the Council expressed its determination to curb them by prompt security cooperation, appealed to all nations not to provide asylum to individuals or groups involved in terrorist acts, and renewed its call for an international agreement to combat terrorism, commending the efforts of the League of Arab States in this respect.
The Supreme Council concluded their communiqué by announcing the extension for three years of the term of office of Secretary-General Sheikh Jamil Ibrahim Al-Hujeilan;  by paying tribute to Sultan Qaboos for winning an international peace prize this year;  and by expressing support for the nomination of Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr. Ghazi Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Gosaibi for the post of Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during elections to be held in October, 1999.