London – The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani said deep-rooted relations between Gulf countries and Britain would be further consolidated after “Brexit”.
In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Thursday, Al-Zayani said that Britain was witnessing a period of economic restructuring. He added that Gulf States were heading towards deepening and consolidating relations with Britain in the wake of the country’s decision to exit the European Union.
Al-Zayani noted that Gulf countries were also working on boosting economic relations and cooperation within the GCC itself. He said that two committees were recently established in the GCC Secretariat. The first, a judicial-economic committee, would look into means to facilitate economic cooperation; while the second committee would work on economic and development affairs and would constitute a major step towards boosting economic ties.
The interview with the GCC secretary general was conducted on the margins of a quadrilateral meeting on Yemen held at Lancaster House in London earlier this week.
Al-Zayani said he attended a meeting on Thursday with British Trade Minister Liam Fox, Saudi Minister of Trade and Investment Majed Abdullah Al-Kassabi, Bahrain’s Minister of Commerce Zayed Al-Zayani and Oman’s Minister of Transport Ahmed Al-Futaisi.
During the meeting, Fox stressed his country’s commitment to promoting trade cooperation with Gulf countries. He also revealed an imminent investment project of USD140 million to develop electronic and homeland security infrastructure in the Gulf.
The meeting on Yemen in London was attended by representatives from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, ended on Wednesday evening. The foreign ministers of these countries came together in support of international efforts to reach a political solution to the Yemeni crisis.
The meeting coincided with the increasing complexities facing the peace consultations held under the auspices of the United Nations in Kuwait. The meeting was attended by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Foreign Minister of the UAE Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
Asked whether Gulf countries would sponsor further peace talks on Yemen, in case the ongoing UN-led talks in Kuwait fail, Al-Zayani said that since 2011, the GCC launched the Gulf initiative to reach a peaceful political solution to Yemen. However, he added, a local Yemeni party that was influenced by foreign interference has hampered the peace process.
Al-Zayani added that current peace talks came as a response to the Yemeni legitimate government’s request to restore legitimacy in the war-torn country and achieve sustainable peace and security.
Asked about efforts deployed by GCC countries in this regard, Al-Zayani highlighted the important role of King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Center (KSRELIEF) in supporting humanitarian work in Yemen. He also underlined Kuwait’s role in providing the appropriate
environment for peace negotiations between the conflicting parties within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and the results of the Yemeni national dialogue. He added that efforts were underway to achieve a ceasefire and the handover of arms.
Al-Zayani praised efforts deployed by U.N. envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his commitment to reach a peaceful solution in line with international resolutions. He also noted that Gulf leaders have called for holding an international conference to rebuild Yemen.
The GCC secretary general said he believed such conference would be held in the Saudi capital, adding that the exact location and date were yet to be specified.