The leaders of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) arrived in Manama yesterday for their 21st Summit meeting. Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz led the Saudi delegation on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz. Welcoming the delegations, Emir of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa expressed the hope that the current session would pave the way for agreement on the issuance of a unified GCC currency, and for approval of a common defense agreement. Today, the GCC leaders signed that joint defense agreement, which is aimed at strengthening links and fostering cooperation among the member states in the area of security. In addition to a communiqué at the end of the Summit, the Manama Declaration was issued, stressing the importance of adopting a unified strategy at all levels, political, economic, security, military, social, media, cultural and scientific.
The two-day summit was also attended by Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Prime Minister of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed of Oman, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and GCC Secretary-General Jameel Ibrahim Al-Hujeilan.
Crown Prince Abdullah's address to the 21st GCC Summit
In his address to the Summit yesterday, Crown Prince Abdullah expressed the hope that there would be a decision on the priorities for the proposed strategy to achieve comprehensive development at economic, cultural and social levels, and that appropriate recommendations would be made on the remarks included in the report on this subject submitted by the advisory commission.
On defense, Crown Prince Abdullah stated that developing an efficient capability to deter any possible attack on the GCC member states was an utmost necessity, saying: "This requires all GCC countries to move decisively toward improving their collective defense capabilities to enable them to confront current and potential challenges". He added that it was absurd to talk about a unified military front in the absence of a unified and cohesive political front. For this front to be efficient and effective, it is imperative, he said, to adhere fully to standard policies and not to be content with statements or remarks or decisions that do not find their way to implementation.
The Crown Prince reiterated support for the Palestinians and their legitimate rights, and for defense of the Holy City of Al-Quds [Jerusalem], which is an Arab and an Islamic cause that cannot be compromised, since the City constitutes part of the occupied Arab territories to which the United Nations Security Council resolutions apply. He called for provision of the necessary international protection for the Palestinian people, who are suffering the ugliest kind of oppression and aggression at the hands of Israeli occupation forces. The peace process can only resume, he declared, if the international community moves to stop Israel's dangerous violations.
As for Iraq, he reiterated support for that country to regain its role in the Arab arena, but stressed that in their efforts to rehabilitate it, Arab countries should take care to avoid anything that might encourage Iraq to commit new aggressions.
Undermining the task of improving relations with Iran, he said, is the continued problem of the three islands belonging to the United Arab Emirates. He added that the Iranian government has not shown the desired responsiveness to the special tripartite committee charged with the task of establishing a mechanism for initiating direct negotiations to resolve the issue peacefully, saying: "We are still hopeful of receiving from the Iranian government evidence indicating its willingness to respond to the proposed initiative through positive dealings with the committee."