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GCC Summit opens in Riyadh
December 8, 2018, 4:16 pm
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His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah headed a high-level delegation to the 39th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit that begins in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, 9 December.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia is hosting and chairing the summit, which brings together leaders and representatives of the six-nation bloc, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their annual gathering.

Speaking ahead of the Summit, the GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said, “The GCC leaders will discuss a number of important issues pertaining to the GCC joint action, and the achievements made so far within the framework of the GCC integration and cooperation in political, defense, economic and legal fields.” He added the leaders will examine the reports and recommendations submitted by relevant specialized GCC ministerial committees and the General Secretariat.

The GCC chief also said that the session would also review the latest regional and international political developments and security situations in the region. He hoped that the summit would bring about constructive and fruitful outcomes that would deepen GCC cooperation and integration in various fields and realize the aspirations of its citizens for greater solidarity, cohesion and support to face all challenges and maintain the security and stability of the GCC countries and the region.

Political rift within the GCC will weigh heavily on the Summit. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on Qatar over allegations of its support for terrorism. Qatar denied the charges and claimed that the boycott aimed to curtail its sovereignty.

The level of Qatar’s representation at this year’s summit in Riyadh will be highly relevant. At last year’s summit held in Kuwait, the participation of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, led to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain sending ministers or deputy prime ministers to attend.

Ahead of the summit, on Thursday, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the GCC remained valid despite a bitter row with Qatar. “The main success of the council is in its economic aspects and the creation of a Gulf common market."

Last week, in an apparent shot at Saudi Arabia’s leadership of OPEC, Qatar abruptly announced it was quitting the organization after 57 years to concentrate on gas developments. In November, Qatar’s ruler was also reported to have said the GCC dispute “exposed the failure" of the GCC and harmed regional security by weakening the block.

Regional security is another key point at this year’s summit. In late November, at a GCC forum held in Riyadh to discuss the new American policy towards Iran, the GCC Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Negotiations, Dr. Abdulaziz Hamad Al-Owaishek emphasized the importance of strengthening the Council's foreign relations in all areas to thwart Iran's destabilizing activities in the region. He called for working with friendly and brotherly countries to ensure compliance with sanctions to push Iran to change its behavior in the region, and commit to the principles of international law and legitimacy.

 

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