Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Following the end of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] consultative summit in Riyadh, chaired by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the GCC ministerial council recommended further study of proposals for a Gulf Union, with further discussions of this issue set to take place at a future GCC meeting.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal delivered a statement to the press during a joint-press conference with GCC Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani, following the end of the 14th Consultative Meeting of GCC leaders.
Prince Saud al-Faisal said “The GCC leaders have reviewed a report by the specialized commission entrusted with studying proposals on the transition of the GCC from a phase of cooperation towards one of union. They have agreed on a proposal by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to allow the Ministerial Council to complete studying the report by the specialized commission and submitting its recommendations to a summit meeting of the Supreme Council to be held in Riyadh.”
He said the GCC member states would continue discussions on a possible union of the six nations, but any such plan would require more time. Prince Saud al-Faisal stressed “this issue will take time…the aim is for all [GCC] countries to join, not just two or three.”
He also revealed that “GCC leaders discussed the political developments in the region, including the recent provocative acts by Iran in the occupied UAE islands. They also reviewed the developments in Syria in light of the escalating killings, in addition to the current efforts of the Arab League and United Nations [UN] joint envoy. The GCC leaders also addressed a number of issues relating to the march of GCC joint-action, and discussed means of following-up the implementation of related decisions.”
For his part, GCC Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani said “the consultative meeting of GCC leaders was constructive and the outcomes of the meeting will be reflected positively with regards to the joint cooperation march among GCC states.”
He added “as regards joint security, including the amended security agreement, the GCC leaders have authorized the GCC Interior Ministers to sign the agreement at their next meeting.”
He also revealed that GCC leaders were briefed by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister on the visit by the Crown Prince of Bahrain to the United States. He said “the GCC leaders welcomed the results of this visit, especially the US decision to lift the arms embargo against the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
The GCC Secretary-General also said that the leadership agreed to provide grants for a period of five years to support development project in Jordan and Morocco, adding that the decisions and steps taken by Yemeni President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi to implement the GCC initiative were welcomed.
Responding to questions from the press, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal stressed that in order to ensure efficiency and clear understanding, the decision regarding a transition from a phase of cooperation to one of union would be presented at the GCC Extraordinary Conference, provided that the committee completes its study of this issue.
As for Iran, the Saudi Foreign Minister said “Iran’s threat is clear; I don’t think it hides the threat. Therefore, as I mentioned, this issue was discussed, but not in the context of Saudi – Bahraini relations. Any threat in this context is unacceptable and rejected. Iran has nothing to do with procedures taken by GCC countries, even if such procedures lead to union. Iran is free to seek union with whom it wishes. We hope that it shows the level of good-neighborliness that we seek.”
Regarding the current situation in Syria, Prince Saud al-Faisal said “the confidence in the efforts exerted by the joint Arab League – UN envoy have begun to decline in light of the continuing fighting, violence and bloodshed.”
As for accusations from the Syrian media that the GCC is interfering in Syria’s domestic affairs, the Saudi Foreign Minister said “as long as the Syrian media does not show the real situation in Syria, there can be no doubt that it will accuse other countries. Such accusations are unfair.”
Answering a question about terrorism in Yemen, Prince Saud al-Faisal said “terrorism is everything, and it is an international responsibility. So, there should be cooperation to address this. As for us, we are cooperation with everybody to confront terrorism. We are also coordinating with Yemen to help the country free itself from terrorism.”
As for the reasons for the establishment of a GCC Union, Prince Saud al-Faisal said “it is for addressing issues not solved yet.”
Answering a question about the Iranian president’s visit to the occupied UAE islands, he said “If Iran is looking forward to relations with GCC member states; it should not consider such relations without solving this problem. We follow the wise policy of the UAE in this regard, which does not seek a military solution, but a political one which is reached through understanding. All GCC member states support this trend.”