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Gulf diplomacy kicks into high gear
RIYADH, Dec 6, (Agencies): The Gulf tour by the Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud will feature examination of a host of files and cement inter-GCC solidarity, according to prominent personalities. Fadl Al-Bouainain, member of the Saudi Shura Council, said in a statement to KUNA that the Saudi leadership is keen on strengthening joint Gulf action and attaining optimum integration among the GCC states for sake of regional security and stability. Moreover, Riyadh aspires to bolster economic prosperity in the Council’s member states. The Crown Prince Gulf tour is designed to bolster the joint GCC action, attain highest form of merger in various spheres namely in the security and economic sectors. Additionally, his mission will affirm significance of brotherly-level meetings for boosting the inter-GCC relations, tackling challenges and unifying views toward various crucial files, he said.
Al-Bouainain elaborated, saying the Kingdom Vision 2030, launched by Crown Prince Mohammad, not only focuses on the local economy but also calls for creating economic links with the neighboring states. The security file, he has added, is a main basis upon which all development and economic objectives are placed, also noting that the GCC countries have facing emerging dangers such as sabotage schemes. Meanwhile, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, member of the Saudi Shura Council, said the tour is complementary to previous coordination among the GCC countries regarding key files that collectively affect the council member countries. Dr. Al-Nahas indicated that among the topics on the tables of talks with the officials due to meet with the Crown Prince would be combating terrorism and extremism. Moreover, he said, the tour will address “a certain mechanism to beef up the confrontation against the Iranian regime that continues to support terrorist organizations and groups, meddle in internal affairs of the GCC and Arab States, thus the need arises in this context to unify the efforts of the GCC states.” Furthermore, the Crown Prince tour emits a message to the global and regional communities; that the GCC states share concerns and policies at the political and security levels. The Saudi Crown Prince was heading Monday to Oman, the first stop of a tour of Gulf Arab states that will see him meet neighboring rulers and allies as the kingdom closely watches negotiations in Europe to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Coincides Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit coincides with a flurry of other diplomatic meetings in the region, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to ally Qatar and a visit by a high-ranking security official from the United Arab Emirates to Iran. Confirmed by Saudi and Omani media, the tour also comes ahead of an upcoming annual six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council meeting of rulers this month.
Erdogan, whose country rushed to support Qatar during a diplomatic standoff that ended earlier this year with other Arab states, said Turkey welcomes reconciliation efforts in the Gulf region. Turkey has been trying to repair frayed relations with some Arab states, including with a visit by Erdogan to the UAE in February. Meanwhile, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s tour will take him this week to the UAE, where a rivalry has heated up for business amid diverging foreign policies between the traditional allies, as well as Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, according to diplomats who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss tour details. The diplomats said the tour aims to eliminate geopolitical differences and enhance cooperation and coordination among the six Gulf Arab countries, particularly in dealing effectively with Iran’s nuclear program and regional ambitions.
The national security adviser of the United Arab Emirates met Monday with Iran’s hard-line president in Tehran, a major visit for the Gulf Arab federation that has long viewed the Islamic Republic as its main regional threat. The visit by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan comes as the Emirates and Saudi Arabia are both negotiating with Iran amid efforts in Vienna to save Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The UAE, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, reached a diplomatic recognition deal last year with Israel, increasing tensions with Tehran. The UAE has long served as a lifeline to the outside world for Iran amid international sanctions. Sheikh Tahnoon, wearing a navy-blue thobe, black suit jacket and his signature aviator sunglasses, met first with Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. The two men smiled and shook hands in front of journalists before their meeting, a large map of Iran and the Arabian Gulf looming behind them, with just a sliver of the Emirates visible on it.