GCC Foreign Ministers issue statement in Riyadh

March 4, 2014

The 130th ordinary session of the Foreign Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was held in Riyadh today, under the chairmanship of Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The Saudi delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal. Other participants included UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa; Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah; Qatari Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah; and GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani.

The ministers discussed a wide range of issues related to GCC cooperation and regional issues. After the deliberations, a press statement was released detailing the numerous decisions made during the meeting. Among other developments, the GCC ministers approved a budget to fund the Gulf Green Initiative; established a ministerial committee for tourism cooperation in GCC member states; and approved the resumption of free trade negotiations with other states and groups.

The Ministerial Council reemphasized the firm position of the GCC countries against terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations. It hailed the royal order issued by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz mandating the imprisonment of those participating in hostilities abroad or belonging to terrorist organizations. It welcomed a similar statement issued by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior warning its citizens against fighting abroad or supporting extremist groups.

Regarding Iran, the Foreign Ministers rejected that country’s continued occupation of three islands belonging to the UAE and denounced the repeated, irresponsible comments issued by Iranian officials about Bahrain, which constitute blatant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. Furthermore, they stressed the importance of following through on the commitments laid out in the Joint Action Plan signed by the P-5+1 and Iran last November.

On the topic of Syria, the Ministerial Council welcomed the 2nd International Humanitarian Pledging Conference and the Group of Friends of Syria meetings held in January. However, it expressed regret at the failure of the Geneva II Conference to achieve concrete goals aimed at ending the suffering of the Syrian people. The Council called for the international community to pressure the Assad regime to implement Security Council Resolution No. 2139, which called for the lifting of sieges on Syrian cities, ending attacks on civilians, and facilitating the entry of humanitarian convoys.

Next, the Ministerial Council reiterated the need for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. It warned that Israel’s decision to continue building settlements in occupied territory demonstrates that country’s intransigence and its efforts to disrupt efforts to achieve a just, comprehensive peace.

The Foreign Ministers touched on a handful of other regional issues as well, commending the success of the Yemeni National Dialogue Conference; welcoming the formation of a new Lebanese government; and stressing the need for Iraqi national reconciliation in order to end the violence there.