The foreign ministers of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held their 79th session in Jeddah yesterday, and issued a statement expressing condolences to Palestinian President Yassir Arafat, to the Palestinian people, and to his family, on the death of Faisal Al-Husseini, who was in charge of the Al-Quds portfolio.
The ministers discussed a number of topics such as steps for implementing the GCC customs union, development of the economic agreement aimed at setting up a monetary union, the elimination of barriers to trade exchange among GCC member states, and joint negotiations with Arab trade partners.
They also reiterated that Iraq must implement the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council pertaining to its aggression against Kuwait, including coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, and with the tripartite committee concerned with issues of Kuwaiti prisoners of war, detainees, and return of property. They called on Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations to put an end to the outstanding problems regarding weapons of mass destruction, and stressed the need for Iraq to respect Kuwait's security, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. They urged Iraq to implement the UN Security Council resolutions in order to end the sufferings of the Iraqi people, and in this respect, pointed out the positive efforts exerted by the GCC states at the recent Arab Summit in Amman, adding that Iraq's rejection of them had aborted these efforts, thereby again proving that it is unwilling or uninterested in ending the sufferings of its people. Nevertheless, they re-affirmed the need to respect Iraq's independence and territorial integrity, and not to interfere in its internal affairs.
Regarding the islands of Lesser and Greater Tunbs and Abu Mousa, which are still occupied by Iran, the GCC foreign ministers considered Iran's rejection of various peaceful initiatives to solve the issue as contradicting its announcement of willingness for dialogue and elimination of tension. This rejection, the statement said, does not serve security and stability in the Arabian Gulf. The foreign ministers strongly opposed Iran's erection of houses for settlement on the islands as aimed at changing their demographic and geographical structure, a move that contravenes the 1949 Geneva Convention. They renewed the GCC's full support to the right of the United Arab Emirates to the three islands, approving all steps taken by the UAE to regain its sovereignty over them by peaceful means and calling on Iran to accept referral of the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
On the Palestinian issue, the foreign ministers renewed the GCC's full support to the Palestinian people for setting up their independent state with Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital, regaining their usurped rights, and achieving the return of refugees to their homeland according to UN resolutions and the principle of land for peace. They welcomed the recommendations of the follow-up committee in its emergency meeting on May 19, which called on Israel to start negotiations aimed at full withdrawal from the occupied Syrian lands and completion of withdrawal from Lebanese territories. They again urged the international community to make the Middle East, including the Arabian Gulf, a region free from all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.