RIYADH: A summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah welcomed bids by Jordan and Morocco to join the GCC.“The heads of GCC countries talked on the whole range of regional and global issues of common concerns with special reference to the political uprisings in some Arab nations,” said GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani.Al-Zayani also said during a press briefing after the meeting here Tuesday that GCC leaders asked their respective foreign ministers to hold talks with the officials of Jordan and Morocco to begin the membership process. Yemen is currently negotiating with the GCC and its accession is due by 2016.The GCC will become a market for over a hundred million people if Jordan, Morocco and Yemen become members of the bloc, said a GCC official.
The meeting also discussed Iranian intervention in the internal affairs of the Gulf states and reviewed the pros and cons of the GCC-brokered deal for Yemen that failed to muster endorsements from the warring factions.The Gulf leaders urged all sides in Yemen to sign the deal. “The council urged all the parties in Yemen to endorse the agreement, which is the best way to spare the country further political division and deterioration of security,” said the heads of GCC states in a joint statement.Al-Zayani said: “The summit comes at a time when GCC-Iran tensions are high.”King Abdullah chaired this 13th GCC consultative meeting at Diriya Palace in Riyadh. Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal also attended the summit.
The uncovering of an Iranian spy ring in Kuwait and a recent provocative statement by Iran’s Chief of Armed Forces Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, claiming that the Arab Gulf “belonged to Iran forever” have only served to fuel the tension, Al-Zayani said. The GCC leaders called on Iran to stop supporting protesters in Bahrain.Al-Zayani said that the GCC leaders reaffirmed the need to enhance cooperation among GCC states in all sectors, while reemphasizing joint GCC security.The GCC region will remain “united and an integrated entity,” the leaders said.The leaders also gave the green light to establishing a $20-billion development fund to aid Bahrain and Oman, which will be dedicated for housing and infrastructure projects.“The GCC leaders also focused on enhancing GCC joint action in the fields of politics, economy, security and culture,” said a spokesman of the GCC General Secretariat.
They also discussed the deteriorating situation in Libya.The leaders reiterated their support to the UAE’s claims on three disputed islands that have been under the Iranian control since 1970.“The dispute over the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa should be solved urgently,” said the statement.The GCC leaders welcomed the agreement reached by the Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas and wished them luck to work together to regain the rights of the Palestinian people including the establishment of an independent state. The leaders also touched on the situation in Lebanon and Iraq. This GCC Consultative Council meeting was attended by a large number of top officials from the six Gulf states, who were accompanying their respective leaders. – Arabnews