Summit prep talks focus on economy ‘Hope for agreement on shared values’

MANAMA, Bahrain, Dec 23: In preparation for the 33rd Gulf Cooperation Council Summit to be held in Bahrain, various foreign ministers and officials from participating countries held a preliminary meeting to open up some of the economic issues on the Summit’s agenda.

In an opening statement, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa said, “The issues discussed in the meeting are of foremost importance to their Highnesses, the leaders of the Gulf states, looking towards deepening the ties which affirm our unity, and reinforce our shared areas of interest, particularly on the political, economic, defense, security and cultural levels, and the implementation of the full aspects of Gulf citizenship. We look towards a horizon of agreement upon our joint values.”

The discussion mainly raised economic integration issues, as well as social issues and the necessary measures and undertakings for participant countries to ensure the wellbeing of their citizens.

They discussed the Gulf Customs Union, and the establishment of an integrated Gulf market economy, with aims towards comprehensive economical ties among the GCC states, akin to those of the European market.

In addition, they discussed the means by which the Gulf legal apparatus can be better suited for this kind of economic integration, and the ways in which to tackle laws which obstruct economic integration.
In continuation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ efforts in holding talks with the former Yemeni president in Riyadh earlier this year, discussion during the meeting raised the means and procedures of Yemen economically joining the GCC.

On this occasion, Yemeni Foreign Minister, Dr Abubakr Abdullah Al-Qarbi stated, “It is a great coincidence that this Summit comes exactly a year after the ratification of the Gulf initiative to resolve the crisis in Yemen, in Riyadh, under the kind hospitality of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin AbdulAziz Al-Saud, which delivered Yemen from the danger of slipping into a civil war, opening the doors for a bright future to be written out by all Yemenis alike, within a comprehensive national agreement that will put in place the foundations of the state, and government, guaranteeing equality to all Yemenis, and social stability and the abundance of development in all areas in Yemen.”

He added that the initiative had given birth to a great deal of achievements in Yemen, amongst which were the establishment of a government, the rebuilding of the army and holding presidential elections ahead of schedule.

Further more the ministers affirmed the optimum ideals and understanding of citizenship in the Gulf states, in accordance with current developments.

Upon exiting the meeting, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Saud Al-Faisal stated that the meeting discussed the economy, and other issues pertaining to the Gulf states. With regards to Iranian involvement, he stated, “We welcome everyone’s involvement, but if the involvement comes with the purpose of disruption then we cannot accept it,” adding that Iran is taking advantage of the situation at hand to get involved is Gulf state affairs for the purpose of inciting sedition, and that the situation is uncomfortable, and their involvement incomprehensible.

In a statement following the meeting, Assistant to the Secretary General of the GCC stated that a summit would be held in Riyadh to discuss and research on the issue of the Gulf Union, adding that, “We are seeking economic integration on every level.”

Upon inaugurating the Media Center for the coverage of the Summit, Bahrain’s State Minister, Samira Rajab for Information Affairs stated, “The passing of 33 years of this organization is in itself a great accomplishment — it is not easy for an international organization to be functional for all these years without the strong elements that keep it together.

“On the agenda is the formation of a union, which is the next expected step, and what we should be moving towards. We have great hopes to begin with economic integration, and military leadership, in light of recent crises in the region.”

And in a statement to the Arab Times, she confirmed the close ties between Kuwait and Bahrain, stating that, “ (The two) are one country with a joint fate.

Speaking on the recent unrest in Bahrian, she stated, “In Bahrain, we were able to prevent external aggression on the region, and I hope that people appreciate this, because what happened here was not simple a Bahraini issue, but rather an issue that affects the whole Gulf region, and we were able to subdue it on a preliminary level.”

Commenting on regional involvement in the internal affairs of Bahrian, she stated, “It is not simple a matter of involvement, but rather a regional and national project in the Gulf as a whole, and we must study this issue well, with steady rationality.”

Further, she added, “We request dialogue, and we hold no enmity towards any neighboring states, but we must be up to date with any impending dangers.”

Up to 400 media representatives have been hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain for full coverage of the
summit, and the media center is equipped to facilitate coverage for them.

By: Joana Saba Arab Times Staff

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