The foreign ministers of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held their 76th conference yesterday in Jeddah, chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and attended by GCC Secretary-General Sheikh Jamil Al-Hujeilan. A final communiqué was issued today.
In his address to the conference, Prince Saud attributed the derailment of the Middle East Peace process, which he described as the core issue for all Arabs, to the arrogance, indifference and procrastination of Israel. To this effect, he cited the collapse of the recent Camp David Summit, and referred to the statement issued by the Al-Quds [Jerusalem] Committee recently in Agadir, Morocco that attested to the Arab and Islamic position towards the holy city of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock. He warned Israel not to think that the peace process could progress without meeting legitimate Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights in Al-Quds.
Referring to the latest accusations from the Iraqi government against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the
State of Kuwait, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that the Iraqi regime is still misreading the regional and
international initiatives aimed at assisting the people of Iraq to overcome their difficulties. He stated that the Baghdad regime erroneously thinks that there are some changes in the international stance towards the outcome of its invasion of Kuwait ten years ago. The goal of the Iraqi regime, he said, is to divert the international community's attention from the origin of the Iraqi problem. He added that the GCC member
states still believe that Iraq should strictly adhere to the United Nations' requirements as the best alternative to help its people and alleviate its sufferings.
Turning to Iran, Prince Saud said the GCC is anticipating a positive response from the Iranian government to the endeavor of the tripartite committee to prepare for the creation of a mechanism to enable Iran to negotiate with the United Arab Emirates in order to reach an amicable solution to the issue of the three UAE islands. This cooperation could pave the way for firm relations between Iran and the GCC based on mutual confidence and a common desire to respect each other's rights.
On Somalia, Prince Saud said the GCC member states welcome the outcome of the recent reconciliation
process, and hope that the other Somali political factions will soon join it.
Briefing the meeting on the outcome of the eighth conference of the GCC and European Union (EU) on June 9, 2000 in Brussels, Prince Saud reported that the GCC had requested intensification of the trade discussions to reach conclusion as soon as possible, since the basic provisions exist for the purpose of negotiation. He expressed the hope that the upcoming session in November 2000 would work for the development of their joint strategic interests.
At a press conference following the meeting, Prince Saud confirmed that the United Arab Emirates fully supports the endeavors of the tripartite committee assigned by the GCC, and is satisfied with its efforts so far. The GCC has requested that Iran receive the committee in the near future. Acceptance of this proposal would pave the way to creating a mechanism to begin dialogue between the two parties and cool down the tension so that discussions on complicated matters, like border issues, can be quietly conducted on the bases of raternity and amicability. He added that the GCC policy towards Iran is rooted in its desire to create the best relations based on non-interference in internal affairs, mutual respect, solution of problems through peaceful means, preservation of the interests of the peoples in the region on the one hand and the distinguished relations between the GCC member states and Iran on the other. These relations, he said, are natural, and he hoped that the UAE islands problem will be solved, since its resolution is in the interest of both sides.