GCC foreign ministers hold their 118th meeting in Abu Dhabi

Ministers condemn crimes committed against civilians and the recruitment of mercenaries in Libya

GCC calls for protection of civilians, no-fly zone on Libya

The United Arab Emirates called on Monday for the U.N. Security Council to act to protect the Libyan people, as fighting continued between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"We appeal to the international community, especially the (U.N.) Security Council, to meet their historical responsibilities to protect this dear people," UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told a meeting of Gulf Arab foreign ministers in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE and Turkey said on Friday they would work together to send humanitarian aid to Libya, where hundreds of people have been killed in the uprising against Gaddafi.

Abdulrahman al-Attiya, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE -- said the killing of Libyans was a crime against humanity.

"Massacres committed by the regime against their own citizens are crime against humanity that require condemnation, especially the regime's use of mercenary and heavy weapons," Attiya told the GCC foreign ministers' meeting. "The protection and safeguarding of the Libyan people citizens is an absolute priority at this critical stage."

But Attiya warned against foreign intervention.

"Rejecting all kinds of foreign intervention in Libya and asserting the full commitment towards maintaining the national unity of the Libyan people and the sovereignty, unity and safety of its lands (is a priority)," he said.

GCC Secretary General Abdurrahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiya took part in the meeting at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. In his opening speech, Sheikh Abdullah said the agenda of the current meeting is full of vital issues that receive the interest of the leaders and peoples of the Gulf Arab states. “The unusual circumstances around us require us to unify our efforts and convictions to promote GCC joint action towards a unity in terms of plans aimed at pushing stability and development in our society.”

“The current circumstances impose us all to promote cooperation and diligently seek to realize concrete achievements that are in the best interests of citizens and a better life for them,” he added.

Shaikh Abdullah further noted the “judicious efforts made by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to contain demonstrations in Bahrain, place the interests of Bahrain above all other considerations and to lay the foundations for dialogue as a sophisticated and refined approach for addressing the issues of the state and the society with full transparency.”

“We closely monitor the recent developments in the Sultanate of Oman. We are confident in the ability of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said to prudently tackle these issues. We realize that our two countries and peoples have one and common destiny. We stress that we share the same security and the same future.”

The GCC ministerial meeting is being held as the brotherly Libyan people goes through crucial changes that require us to join efforts to deliver help to them. We appeal to the international community, and to the Security Council in particular, to shoulder its historical responsibility for protecting the Libyan people..”

Following the opening of the session, the GCC foreign ministers held a closed-door meeting to discuss cooperation among their states, joint action on political, economic, legal, humanitarian, environmental issues, intra-GCC strategic dialogue, international economic relations and the latest regional and international developments.

The GCC foreign ministers supported Monday the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians being subjected to attacks by the Libyan regime, calling for an urgent Arab summit to discuss the situation in the North African country, Kuwait news agency (KUNA) reported.

They also called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to adopt all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya including the imposition of a no-fly zone.

Britain and France, supported by the United States, circulated among Security Council other permanent members - Russia and China - "elements" for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.

The elements, to be shared "soon" with all 15 members of the Council, considers the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya "if gross violations" of human rights are committed against civilians by government forces.

In a final statement read by Attiya, the foreign ministers called for an urgent Arab League summit meeting to discuss means of protecting Libyan civilians.

The foreign ministers, he added, voiced backing to the UNSC resolution 1970 and the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council over Libya.

Asked about the postponement of the Arab summit, originally scheduled for later this month in Baghdad, Sheikh Abdullah said it was postponed until May because of the situations in the Arab countries.

Al-Attiya, meanwhile in the statement, said the foreign ministers condemned the crimes committed against civilian s in Libya killing large numbers of innocent civilians, in what represented a "dangerous violation of human rights and the international human rights law."

He called on the Libyan authorities to immediately stop violence against the civilians and stop bloodshed and facilitate arrival of humanitarian aid.