UAE President opens GCC summit in Abu Dhabi

Emir of Kuwait: We follow with interest, appreciation Saudi Arabia’s efforts to combat terror

Saudi Arabia in Manama Dialogue forum: We attach paramount importance to Gulf security

Jordan monarch says Israel has to choose between peace or isolation

Clinton expresses fears over regional arms race due to Iran’s nuke program

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan inaugurated the 31st Summit of Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar; Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait; Prince Naïf Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia; and Sayed Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, are participating in the summit.

Sheikh Khalifa welcomed the GCC leaders and said: "My brothers, the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you. I am pleased to welcome you in your second home country, the United Arab Emirates, and wish success for this meeting. On this occasion I extend my gratitude and appreciation to my brother, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, for his effort and his wisdom during his presidency of the previous session.

"I also thank His Excellency Abdulrahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, for his sincere efforts during his tenure as Secretary General of the Council and also welcome His Excellency Dr Abdullatif Bin Rashid Al Zayani as the new Secretary General of the Council and wish him success in his work. In the name of God I declare the opening of the 31st GCC summit. Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you."

The leaders later started the first closed-door session of the summit under the chairmanship of Sheikh Khalifa.

Secretary General of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah said the Abu Dhabi summit will serve as a turning point in the GCC joint action in all domains, reported UAE official WAM news agency.

Al Attiyah paid homage to the GCC leaders for their consistent support for the advancement of the GCC since its creation, said the report.

He said the GCC summit has become a signature, well-established structure with its staggering achievements serving as a strong testimony of the indomitable determination and perseverance in reaching the aspired targets and integration.

The Abu Dhabi summit will be exemplary and stand tall with its expected resolutions especially in the economic and developmental files, Al Attiyah affirmed.

The oil-rich GCC was established in 1981 and groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The GCC leaders gathered in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 6-7 for their 31st summit.

Meanwhile, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stressed that it attaches importance to the Gulf region's security, due to its significant impact in achieving international security and stability. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States, Iraq, Yemen and Iran are more concerned with the security and stability of the region than other countries.

This came in the speech of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the seventh session of Manama Dialogue Forum held in Bahrain.

The speech was delivered by Prince Dr. Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Multilateral Relations.

Dr. Al-Kabeer pointed out that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed in all international and regional conferences its rejection of all claims of fragmentation, division or conversion of Iraq into an arena for regional and international ambitions.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also keen on the security and stability of Yemen, as they are an extension of the national security of the countries in the region, urging the international community to help Yemen economically and developmentally.

Dr. Al-Kabeer also said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls for the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, and supports all international efforts aimed at the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at regional and international levels. He also said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports the right of all States in the access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Dr. Al-Kabeer also said that the phenomenon of terrorism constitutes a major challenge for the international community.

Therefore, concerted international efforts are needed to address this dangerous phenomenon which is incompatible with the values and principles we all believe in. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made great efforts to counter terrorism at local, regional and international levels.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks must be rescued from collapse to ensure regional and world stability.

“Our region will not enjoy security and stability unless we solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Arabs, Muslims and Israelis find peace,” the king told the Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain, a major international gathering on regional security.

“If hope is killed, radical forces will prevail. The region will sink into more vicious warfare and instability, threatening security far beyond the borders of the Middle East,” he warned.

“This is why it is essential that we rescue the new round of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel,” he said of direct pace talks launched in September in Washington.

The talks have ground to a halt as Israel refused Palestinian demands to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

A 10-month freeze expired on September 26, shortly after the launch of the latest round of negotiations.

King Abdullah said “the building of settlements has to stop,” and he urged Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to resume “serious negotiations” on all pending issues namely borders, security and refugees.

“Only through such serious negotiations, will we get to the end game: An independent and viable Palestinian state, living side by side a secure Israel, that is accepted and accepting, in a region of peace.

“The alternative is new conflicts that will reverberate far beyond the borders of the Middle East. Conflicts that will threaten the strategic national interests of the US, Europe and the rest of us in the international community.

“The world has already been dragged into regional conflicts. And it will certainly be involved in new confrontations, that will erupt in this environment of frustration and tension,” he added.

Days before a key meeting on Iran's disputed nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Tehran to begin proving its peaceful intentions and warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would lead to a regional arms race.

Asked what she expected from the meeting in Geneva between Iran and officials from six countries trying to contain Iran's nuclear program, Clinton said: "That's in the hands of the Iranians."

Stressing that Iran is legally entitled to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under international safeguards, she expressed hope that the Geneva talks would lead to a breakthrough.

In an interview with the BBC, Clinton gave an unusually clear signal that the Obama administration accepts that Iran could eventually be permitted to enrich uranium on its own — a practice now opposed by the West because of suspicions that Iran will secretly use the material to build a bomb.

"We've told them that they are entitled to the peaceful use of civil nuclear energy, but they haven't yet restored the confidence of the international community to the extent where the international community would feel comfortable allowing them to enrich," Clinton told the BBC. "They can enrich uranium at some future date once they have demonstrated that they can do so in a responsible manner in accordance with international obligations."

In her speech at an international security conference earlier in the day, Clinton said the Obama administration remains open to the possibility of direct U.S.-Iranian talks on the nuclear issue — an approach the Iranians have repeatedly rejected.

"We continue to make this offer of engagement with respect for your sovereignty and with regard for your interests — but also with an ironclad commitment to defending global security and the world's interests in a peaceful and prosperous Gulf region," she said.

There has been more than a year of impasse that produced tighter U.N., American, Asian and European sanctions on Tehran and some stinging blows — including international oil companies leaving Iran and Russia's refusal to deliver a long-awaited anti-aircraft system to Iran's military.

"There is a level of concern that must be addressed by Iran," she said in a question-and-answer session after delivering the keynote speech at the conference. "Otherwise we are left drawing the worst of conclusions" about Iran's intentions.

"And that is a recipe for the further destabilizing of this region in ways that would have long-term consequences."

She urged Iran to come to Geneva prepared to "firmly, conclusively reject the pursuit of nuclear weapons."

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but it has begun taking steps toward enriching uranium at a level sufficient to make bombs.

If Iran believes that acquiring nuclear weapons would improve its security and strengthen its standing in the Middle East and the world, "that is an absolutely wrong calculation because it will trigger an arms race that would make the region less stable, less uncertain and cause serious repercussions far beyond the Gulf," Clinton said.

She pointedly said her remarks were directed at the Iranians in her audience, including Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

The Iranian minister is scheduled to address the same conference.

Aboard her plane later, Clinton said that as she walked by Mottaki after finishing her speech in a hotel ballroom she spotted him shaking hands in the crowd.

"He saw me and he stopped and began to turn away and I said, 'Hello, minister.' He just turned away." she said.

Earlier, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain's top diplomat declared that the Middle East "can never live with" a nuclear-armed Iran — remarks that echoed some of the bluntly private comments about Iran from Gulf leaders that were divulged in recently released WikiLeaks diplomatic documents.

The Bahraini foreign minister was unequivocal in his insistence that Iran must not move toward a nuclear bomb-making capability. He said no one questions Iran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"When it comes to taking that power to developing into a cycle for weapon-grade (nuclear material), that is something that we can never accept and we can never live with in this region," he said. "We've said it to Iran and we've heard it from all."

He was responding to a reporter's question about a WikiLeaks disclosure of a secret State Department cable quoting Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as saying privately that Iran must be stopped from getting the bomb.

Until now, Arab worries generally have been expressed publicly in careful, diplomatic language with the emphasis on dialogue and diplomacy.

The WikiLeaks disclosures showed private concerns about Iran expressed by a range of Arab leaders.

One message said Bahrain's King Hamad "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their (Iran's) nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. That program must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."