Prince Saud al-Faisal asserts in post-summit press conference that final communiqué, Riyadh Declaration embody fraternal atmosphere

Saudi FM: Most prominent results of summit was leaders’ blessings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ proposal to move from cooperation to union

Oman minister of financial affairs: GCC states are in good economic condition

Yemen FM: We appreciate GCC states’ support for Yemen’s government

At the Conclusion of the meetings of the 32nd session of Supreme Council for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States, Prince Saud Al Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs held a press conference at the Media Centre in the Dir'iya Palace this week.

The press conference was held in the presence of Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayyani, GCC Secretary General.

At the beginning of the news conference, the Foreign Minister renewed the welcome, on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, of the GCC leaders and the accompanying delegations as well as the press and media organs.

He highlighted the decisions included in Riyadh Declaration and the final communiquéأ©, reflecting the friendly fraternal atmosphere that prevailed in the meetings of the leaders who were transparent in dealing with various issues listed on their agenda.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal also said these decisions largely reflect that the GCC leadership feels its responsibilities in this current phase which the Arab nation is witnessing in all its variables and challenges and its resolve and determination to confront them through the production of a policy he entitled as 'One Hand Builds, One Hand Protects.'

He added that perhaps the most striking results were the GCC leaders' welcoming and blessing of the proposal contained in the speech of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud calling on the GCC Member States to move from the cooperation stage to the one of Union.

Such a move would push these goals and objectives as hoped, in line with the Statute of the GCC, the Foreign Minister affirmed.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal also asserted that the meetings of the GCC leaders are always better designed to serve the Gulf issues and to carry love and peace to the Arab and Islamic nations and build friendly relations and mutual respect with all regional and international powers in addition to the service of common interests and the security and peace of GCC Member States as well as the international security and peace under the umbrella of the principles of international legitimacy and laws.

For his part, the Secretary General of the GCC Dr. Abdullatif Rashid Al-Zayyani pointed out that the Supreme Council has approved a number of decisions, draft laws in the context of the Gulf plan to fight non inflectional diseases, the regulation of the consultative commission of the Supreme Council, its internal regulation, and a draft to use smart cards as identity cards by GCC citizens in their transactions, both in the public and private sectors in addition to draft laws for unified rules for listing in stock exchanges, customs tariffs in the GCC member states and public prosecution apparatuses.

The Supreme Council approved the establishing of a commission for Customs Union which will start working in June 2012, but it will limit itself to complete studying the mechanism for distributing customs' bag within the set timetable, he concluded.

Then both, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Foreign Minister and the Secretary General of the GCC Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayyani answered questions of journalists. Prince Saud reaffirmed that the talks among the leaders of the GCC member states have focused on the mutual cooperation among member states and tackled various aspects, and that the session was convened in an atmosphere of transparency, frankness and sincerity.

The viewpoints were, either typical, or almost identical, on many issues, he added.

On a question on how to unify Gulf Diplomacy vis-à-vis the world, he described the step as a qualitative move of cooperation, pointing to the well known safeguards and terms of a union, since the accords binding the GCC member states are embodying the minimum of cooperation compared to that of a union, he stated.

This in itself is necessary for the current stage and essential for cohesion, for we should stand united, particularly during confrontation, he remarked, adding that the Communiquéأ© has translated all that honestly and faithfully.

For his part, the Secretary General of the GCC, Dr. Al-Zayyani pointed out that police forces in the capitals of the GCC member states have been commissioned to meet in order to set the appropriate and optimum mechanism to establish GCC police.

On a question about the economies of the nuclear energy, Prince Saud said that because no single source of energy is capable of meeting the needs of energy, there should be efforts to solve this problem by diversifying the sources of energy, adding that it is a pity to convert such a peaceful energy to a tool of destruction.

The Syrian have said that they will sign the Arab League Protocol, but not the initiative, Prince Saud remarked, saying that the protocol requires their signing, as for the initiative, they have announced, previously, their approval.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal stressed that the able GCC member states will provide aid to Egypt, saying 'There are negotiations on some points, but direct aid for direct use has been paid.' He also said 'For the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it continued providing what Egypt needed for several months. This is not strange because Egypt is the heart of the Arab world and the largest and most important country in the Arab world. Despite problems, Egypt is doing its duty in all stages, of which is the recent Egyptian role in the Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation which it sponsored.'

Prince Saud said 'I think the union will help bring together all capabilities and potentials of the six countries. Instead of the now scattered diplomatic activities, the union will lead to one line and have a greater impact in the medium and long terms.'

Responding to a question on the contents of Arab initiative, Prince Saud said 'The Arab initiative calls for a cessation of hostilities as well as the withdrawal of machineries and release of prisoners. It also calls for a reconciliation meeting under the umbrella of the Arab League to avoid a civil war in a brotherly country like Syria. Arab states as a whole do not harbor evil towards Syria nor want any member of the Syrian people be harmed in any way'.

Prince Saud said 'The aim of the Arab League intervention was to have Arab issues solved by Arabs. We did not find the foreign solutions to be correct in many cases. It is proven by experience that solutions from abroad do not understand our problems, and therefore an Arab solution is best for the case in Syria. The issue will be transferred to international organizations by Syria itself not by us. If Syria rejects the Arab solution, then a substitute proposal is already submitted to the Security Council by Russia.'

Prince Saud expressed hope that the Syrians will listen to the advice of their fellow Arabs and will respond to the Arab initiative, as they signed this week the Protocol, which Prince Saud described as a first step to implement the initiative.

On Iran, the Prince said Iran is a neighboring country which enjoys civilization and potentials; we hope its relations would be at their best with GCC member states, but such a question should be directed to the Iranian brothers on why they pursue such a policy towards their neighbors, which leads to distorting the relations with them, he remarked, adding that the Iranian media tries to portray an Arab human being as if he is not worth mentioning among world civilizations.

The recently directed threats to the Emirates in relation to the issue of the (Occupied) islands, is a flagrant menace which was not at all positive, he stated.

The maneuvers they are running in the territorial waters of other Gulf states does not reflect good will; however, if they are acting in good will, we would not step back. And if they are to move a step forward we will take two steps forward, because it is part and parcel of our values; we do not like to commit aggression on other states' interests, we do not harbor any evil against Iran, for the evil is not in part of our politics; rather it is part of the politics pursued by Iran, he affirmed.

On the meetings of the ministers of foreign affairs of the GCC member states in the presence of the ministers of finance, Prince Saud pointed out that the meeting was fruitful and it was preparatory for the summit, while the presence of the ministers of finance was to discuss economic issues that would be submitted to the GCC Supreme Council for approval.

Prince Saud wished stability for Iraq and that Iraqi citizens would be treated on equal footing, in doing their duties and securing their rights, that there would be no discrimination among them, and Iraq would return to be a contributing factor to stability and support for the security of Arab countries; it constituted a harmful factor due to their agony which dictates that Iraqis should pursue a different policy, that’s what we wish.

On the recent visit of the Chief of Iranian Intelligence to the Kingdom, he said that he thinks it was a gesture to show that they are ready to negotiate despite the failed efforts for the ministers of foreign affairs to meet; they might think that on the intelligence level they might be more confident to score than on a diplomatic level, he said. Anyhow, we are ready to negotiate at any level. One negotiates with one’s enemy, let alone a neighbor.

Commenting on the foiled assassination plot on the Saudi ambassador to the United States few months ago, Prince Saud Al-Faisal confirmed that his Ministry has filed a detailed complaint on the issue to the United Nations.

As is prescribed by the Islamic norms, a diplomat is more honored than a son, he stated. In our case where there is an attempt on the life of a Saudi diplomat, the culprits have violated the sanctity of two nations, the host nation and the nation of the guest, he said.

In response to a question, he confirmed that Saudi females would join the diplomatic staff.

Speaking about the Gulf Union, he said that among the important points is that there should be rapprochement among youths in the fields of education, scouts and unification of educational curricula in different subjects, spearheaded by history.

A youth who belongs to our countries should be taught that we share the same history and that whoever moves in our region would receive the same treatment, he explained.

He confirmed that a contingent plan to extend a 10 billion financial support for Bahrain and Oman was endorsed and that the issue is proceeding forward.

Meanwhile, the GCC ministers of foreign affairs held a preparatory meeting for the agenda of the 32nd session on Sunday.

The meeting discussed topics concerning GCC joint cooperation to be submitted to the GCC leaders.

The Sultanate’s delegation to the meeting was led by Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister responsible for foreign affairs.

In a statement, Alawi said an agreement on all the issues has been reached, the most notable of which are the economic issues of common interest of the GCC countries.

Alawi said the report raised to the Summit as a recommendation from the Ministerial Council will be presented.

He said the major economic issues to be presented include economic cooperation and the customs union. He said the political issues which are directly related to the GCC will be presented to the Summit but the Arab world issues will be handled by the Arab League.

He said the GCC countries are very keen to implement the agreement reached in Yemen, adding that the GCC countries and Iran have relations to build cooperation and friendship and to avoid any kind of differences or disagreements.

Alawi said he is optimistic that Syria will join the Arab League in signing the protocol that allows Arab mission to start its visit to Syria to help it come out of the crisis and avoid foreign intervention.

Regarding supporting Jordan and Morocco, he said that there is a trend to hold negotiations with the two countries to enter into medium term partnership. He said the issue will be presented to the GCC leaders.

Meanwhile, the joint meeting of the GCC finance ministers also concluded in Riyadh this week.

Darwish bin Isma’eel bin Ali Al Balushi, the Sultanate’s minister responsible for financial affairs, said that an agreement has been reached to study and complete the pending aspects related to the Customs Union including the distribution of the customs revenues.

The meeting agreed to limiting the alternatives to the two, which will be studied to reach the final agreement on the Customs Union in 2015 as per the pre-approved timetable.

Al Balushi said the first and current applicable measure is that the revenue is for the final destination i.e. the country to which the goods are imported, while the other option is distribution of the total revenues among the GCC states as per measures and mechanisms to be set for this purpose.

Regarding the railway project, he said that an agreement has already been reached and a resolution to implement the project at the GCC level has been taken. The project was in the stage of design, however, each country would make its own design, he added.

He said that linking Yemen with the railway project is still under review and that there are options on the table of which the appropriate one would be adopted.

Regarding the customs system for some GCC countries that have economic and trade agreement, he said the Sultanate and Bahrain have entered into free trade agreement with the US and that a decision on the way of handling such commodities when entering the other GCC countries from the Sultanate and Bahrain has been reached.

He said the ministers have also agreed on establishing a manual that will be used for three years as a reference for the subscription, registration and enlistment procedures at the stock markets.

He said the effects of the global financial crisis on the GCC countries were negligible. The impact would have become stronger if the crisis had affected oil prices as the economies of the GCC countries are linked to oil prices and revenues.

He said that the current prices are at a good and comfortable level for the GCC countries.

He said the aim of the sovereign funds is to identify the feasible and lucrative investment opportunities in the European countries.

Regarding the credit rating made by some agencies, the minister added that the rating agencies measure certain indicators in the economies of the countries and that the economies of the GCC countries are good. These rating agencies pay annual visits to the GCC countries, he added.

The Sultanate’s delegation to the GCC Financial And Economic Cooperation Committee was led by Al Balushi. The recommendations of the meeting have been raised to the joint meeting with the ministerial council.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s foreign minister Abu Bakr Al Qurbi said that the GCC states will boost financial support to Yemen over the next two years.

“Our brothers in the GCC feel that they should provide financial and development support to Yemen, especially during the next two years,” Qurbi told reporters in Riyadh.

“We have reached a political agreement (in Yemen) but we need more cooperation from our Gulf brothers on economy and security issues,” Qurbi said.

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Qurbi expressed thanks to the leaders of the GCC countries for their contributions in resolving the Yemeni crisis.