1999 News Story

GCC foreign ministers meet in Jeddah

The foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) today issued a joint communiqué

in Jeddah at the end of their 71st conference, which was a continuation of their meeting in

Riyadh adjourned on June 12, 1999.

The communiqué praised the border agreement signed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and

the Sultanate of Oman on May 2, 1999.
The communiqué reiterated the GCC's demand that Iraq implement all relevant United Nations

Security Council resolutions; that it take the necessary steps to demonstrate its peaceful

intentions towards Kuwait and neighboring countries, including its recognition of its

invasion of the state of Kuwait as a violation of the Charter of the League of Arab States,

the Joint Arab Treaty for Defense and Economic Cooperation, and Charter of the United

Nations.  The foreign ministers also reiterated the GCC's sincere sympathy with the Iraqi

people, and confirmed its determination to continue efforts to lift their sufferings, while

maintaining the independence and unity of the Republic of Iraq.
Turning to Iran, the communiqué confirmed the GCC's firm position on the importance of

establishing good relations with it on the basis of good neighborliness, mutual respect,

observation of common interests, non-interference in internal affairs, rejection of use of

force or blackmail, and solution of current differences through dialogue and peaceful

means. The communiqué reiterated the GCC's support for the UAE and its repeated call to

solve by peaceful means the issue of Iran's occupation of UAE's three islands of Greater

and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa, order to build confidence and enhance security and

stability in the region, stating that solving this dispute would contribute to cooperation

between the GCC member states and Iran. The meeting was briefed on talks held by Iranian

President Muhammad Khatami during his visits to Saudi Arabia and to the State of Qatar on

the importance of direct negotiation between Iran and the UAE over the issue of the three

islands. The communiqué expressed thanks to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the State

of Qatar, and expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the talks, welcoming Iran's

readiness to start direct negotiations with the UAE.  The meeting decided to form a

ministerial committee consisting of the GCC's Secretary-General and the foreign ministers

of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, and the State of Qatar to create a mechanism for

these negotiations. The committee will present a report on its deliberations to the leaders

of the GCC member states at their next consultative conference.
Concerning the Middle East peace process, the foreign ministers reviewed the current

situation following Israel's general elections, and urged the new Prime Minister Ehud Barak

to comply with the agreements Israel reached with the Palestinians based on the 1991Madrid

conference. The communiqué reconfirmed the GCC's commitment to all agreements reached

between the Arabs and Israel, and called on the new Israeli government to work for revival

of the Middle East peace process, and for resumption of negotiations on all tracks to

restore the legitimate Arab rights through implementation of UN resolutions 242, 338, and

425. The communiqué supported the rights of the Palestinian people including the

establishment of an independent state with the Holy City of Al-Quds as its capital, and

urged complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands including the Syrian Golan

Heights to the line as on June 4, 1967. The communiqué also deplored the repeated Israeli

air attacks targeting civilians and the economic infrastructure in southern Lebanon.
The communiqué called on the international community and the Secretary-General of the

United Nations to intervene to force Israel to implement the April 1996 Memorandum of

Understanding and end its aggressive practices, which are a flagrant breach of UN

resolutions. The foreign ministers expressed appreciation of the efforts of the co-sponsors

of peace in the Middle East, and of the European Union's recent resolution confirming the

right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  They called on these countries to

continue their influence by urging the new Israeli government to comply with the agreements

concluded with the Arabs by former Israeli governments, and to resume negotiations on both

the Syrian and Lebanese tracks order to realize a comprehensive, fair peace, and security

and stability for the region and its people.
Turning to Kosovo, the communiqué expressed deep pain and sorrow for the suffering

inflicted by the Serbian forces, and welcomed the recent peace agreement as a first step to

solving the dispute and repatriating the Kosovar refugees.
Concerning the conflict between India and Pakistan, the foreign ministers have been

following with great concern the military escalation in Jammu and Kashmir, and called on

the two neighboring countries to resort to reason and prudence in solving the problems

between them by peaceful means, avoiding force and the inevitable human and material losses

for both sides. The communiqué praised Pakistan's stance, called on the United Nations to

intervene to end the fighting by enhancing the UN military observer force now in Kashmir,

and urged the two friendly countries to resort to bilateral negotiations to eliminate the

reasons for the current tension.
The communiqué welcomed the suspension by the United Nations of sanctions imposed on Libya

and praised the efforts exerted in this respect by Saudi Arabia and South Africa to find a

fair solution to the issue.
The foreign ministers reiterated the GCC's stance that the Middle East, including the Gulf

region, should be free of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, and that all nuclear

facilities should be open to the international inspection system.