GCC foreign ministers reject foreign interference, affirm readiness to stand up again whatever harms GCC states’ security

Meeting asserts there is no legitimacy for Libyan regime, pledges $20 billion for Bahrain, Oman

Full text of GCC foreign ministers meeting communiqué

Under the chairmanship of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zaid Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), current rotating president of the GCC, the Ministerial Council (Foreign Ministers) of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) continued their ordinary 118th meeting which they have kicked off in Abu-Dhabi last Monday. Secretary General of the GCC Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Atiyyah attended the meeting.

The foreign ministers expressed extreme happiness of the return of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud following a successful medical trip abroad, wishing him continuous good health to continue his prudent leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and extend support for the march of the GCC.

The meeting lauded King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain instructions, assigning Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Heir Apparent and Deputy Commander-in-chief of Bahrain Defense Force, to pursue national dialogue with all parties in Bahrain to secure the aspirations of citizens.

The Council reiterated GCC member countries in support of Bahrain politically and economically, and in terms of security and defense, considering that GCC member countries security and stability an integral package that would not be divided according to security and defense joint treaties and agreements reached among them.

They lauded the wide-range welcome and support the call of Bahrain's Heir Apparent for national dialogue has received.

They congratulated Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, on the multi-occasions of the 50th anniversary of the National Day of Kuwait, the 20th liberation Eid and the 5th anniversary of the Emir's ascending the throne, wishing Kuwait steady progress and prosperity under the prudent leadership of Sheikh Al Sabah.

The ministers also lauded Sheikh Al Sabah for using his good offices to mend the temporary discord between the UAE and Oman.

The outcomes of the meetings of the 3rd Saudi Qatari Coordination Council, co-chaired by Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Heir Apparent of Qatar, were also praised.

The GCC Foreign Ministers gave their approval for the reports presented to the meeting on the future expectations on inflation, support for the Word Trade Organization’s unit at the Secretariat General of the GCC, applications of the E-government in the GCC countries, recommendations of the transport committee of the GCC, and the standards commission performance for the fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

The Council also reviewed a report on the GCC international economic relations with friendly countries and groups, expressing satisfaction over signing the Framework Agreement for economic, commercial, investment and technical cooperation between the GCC countries and Malaysia in Abu-Dhabi on 30 January 2011 and the success of the exploratory tour of the free trade negotiations with Malaysia held in Riyadh on 20 February 2011.

The ministers welcomed a U.S. proposal to conclude a Framework Agreement for economic cooperation with the GCC member states and instructed the Secretariat General to complete the subsequent procedure.

They welcomed the 1st Ministerial Joint Meeting for Strategic Dialogue between GCC and Pakistan, the 1st Ministerial Joint Meeting for Strategic Dialogue between GCC and Australia and the signing of related memoranda with both countries.

The meeting expressed satisfaction over the security coordination and cooperation among the GCC member states in view of the current developments in the region.

In the field of terror combat, the GCC reiterated its firm position on rejection of violence and terror-related extremism and expressed support for all regional and international efforts calling for terror combat.

The meeting blessed Qatar's hosting of the headquarters of the GCC Criminal Information Center for Drug Combat.

The Foreign Ministers approved and forwarded to the Supreme Council the recommendations of the ad hoc committee on studying the Consultative Commission's proposals regarding the development of Shoura (consultative) mechanism.

On human rights, the Ministerial Council approved the convening of a periodical coordinative meeting of the GCC human rights concerned government bodies to draft a human rights charter.

The meeting was briefed on the steps taken to support environment in the GCC countries, including Kuwait's host of a regional conference on the phenomenon of dust and storms, and studies of the impact of climate change.

The ministers were also briefed on the Consultative Commission embarking on studies regarding substitute energy sources development and the GCC efforts on translation and Arab language.

In politics, the UAE side requested this statement drafters to ignore the issue of its occupied islands as the UAE and Iran have reached bilateral agreement to both create the appropriate circumstances to help solve the problem, including not mentioning anything about it in this statement.

On relations with Iran, the GCC Foreign Ministers reaffirmed the importance of remaining committed to the basic pillars for establishing good neighborhood relations, mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, solving differences through peaceful ways and non-use of force or threatening with it.

Expressing profound concern over the Iranian nuclear file, the meeting reiterated its firm positions regarding the importance of adhering by the principles of international legitimacy, solving differences through peaceful means, making the Middle East, including the Arab Gulf, a nuclear and mass destruction weapons free zone, welcoming the continuing efforts to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis peacefully and expressing hope of Iran's positive response for these efforts.

The ministers confirmed the right of the region's countries in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and asked that international agreements in this concern be applied on all countries of the Middle East, including Israel, and underlining the importance of Israel's joining the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and making all its nuclear facilities subject to international inspection.

On the current developments in the Arab countries, the Council expressed satisfaction over the peaceful transition of power in Egypt and respect of the Egyptian people's option and national will, putting its confidence on the ruling Supreme Armed Forces Council in bringing about peace and stability to Egypt as a prelude to form a national government that achieves the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptian people, and hoping that Egypt soon restores its historical pioneering role in support of Arab and Islamic issues.

The Council also expressed respect to the will of the Tunisian people, hoping that security and stability would soon be restored in the Arab friendly country.

On the situation in Libya, the Council denounced the crimes committed against civilians by using live bullets and heavy weapons and recruiting mercenaries, killing big number of innocent victims and constituting flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The GCC Foreign Ministers confirmed the illegality of the current Libyan regime, calling for staging contacts with the transitional National Council in Libya. They called on the Arab League to shoulder responsibility to take the necessary measures to defuse rifts, achieve the aspirations of the Libyan people and take the necessary measures to do that, including calling the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians.

On the Palestinian issue, the Council confirmed that comprehensive, permanent and fair peace in the region could not be achieved without Israel's complete withdrawal to 4 June 1967 parallel from all occupied Arab territories in Palestine, Syrian Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon, in addition to establishing the independent Palestinian state with the Eastern Al-Quds as capital.

The Council expressed regret for the U.S. veto against an Arab-Palestinian resolution denouncing Israeli settlement project in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

The GCC Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their call for the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state according to international legitimacy principles, UN resolutions, principle of land for peace and Arab peace initiative and rejected all partial or phased solutions in this regard, lauding the positions of countries that recently recognized the Palestinian State.

They called on Palestinian factions to abandon rifts and work for unified stances.

The Council denounced Israel's bill considering the occupied Al-Quds as capital for the Jews people.

The ministers called on regional and international organizations to take responsibility towards ending the criminal siege on Gaza Strip and opening of the crossings.

On Iraq, the Council reaffirmed its firm positions, calling for respect of Iraq's unity, independence, territorial integrity, non-interference in its internal affairs, and maintaining its Arab and Islamic identity. The ministers said achieving security and stability in Iraq, requires quick achievement of comprehensive national reconciliation, hoping that the Iraqi national government would soon be completed with the participation of all political factions and blocs.

The GCC ministers called on Iraq to complete executing all UN Security Council relevant resolutions, including the border signs, repatriation of prisoners and the missing from Kuwait and other countries, as well as the repatriation of Kuwait national archive and properties.

On Lebanon, the Council urged all Lebanese political parties to tackle matters with the utmost wisdom and prudence in support of democratic option according to the constitutional bases. It expressed hope that Acting Premier Najib Magati could soon form a national government that would achieve its peoples' aspirations.

On Sudan, the Council expressed hope that Sudan government's recognition of the referendum's results contribute to laying peace between north and south of the country. Also, the Council welcomed the latest developments in Darfur peace process in Doha.

The Council expressed solidarity with Sudan, rejecting the International Criminal Tribunal's measures towards the dispute in Darfur and all the accusations against President Omar Hasan Al-Basheer of Sudan.

The GCC ministers reiterated support for the security, independence and territorial integrity of Somalia and the President-elect Shaikh Shareef Ahmed and his legitimate government, calling for all relevant Somali factions to show cooperation with the government to achieve the aspirations of their people.

The Council decided that all member states of the GCC exchange support for a number of nominations to international portfolios in the Paris-based Arab World Institute, Human Rights Council, UN Economic and Social Council, International Maritime Organization, Arab League Supreme Administrative Court, Arab Parliament Speaker, Asian Heavy Weight Lifting Union, and International Conference for Communications.

The Council praised the performance of Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Atiyyah as Secretary General of the GCC over the past nine years, wishing him all the best and welcomed the Secretary General- designate of the GCC Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, wishing him every success.

The Council appointed Hamad bin Rashed Al-Marri as Assistant Secretary General of the GCC for Legal Affairs for three years, effective April 1, 2011 and Khalid bin Salem Al-Ghassan as Assistant Secretary General for Cultural and Informational Affairs for three years, effective April 1, 2011, wishing them every success.

The deployment of forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council was a "natural step" for collective defense, the secretary-general of the alliance said Wednesday.

Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed to Bahrain as political violence there reached a breaking point. The ruling Sunni minority is under increasing pressure from the country's Shiite majority to offer more political freedoms.

The Iranian Student News Agency reports that Tehran called the United Nations to express concern over the interference of foreign troops.

Iran said it was petitioning the United Nations to complain about the foreign intervention, which opposition groups said amounts to an occupation force.

GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman al-Attiya said during a telephone interview with London's pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that deploying the alliance's Peninsula Shield Force wasn't a military intervention.

"The arrival of the Peninsula Shield Force troops represents a natural step in terms of collective responsibility in maintaining the stability of GCC states, and this is based on the GCC joint defense agreement," he said.

Witnesses said government forces swarmed the streets of Manama, firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters on crowds camped out in the capital city.

At least six people were killed and hundreds more were wounded Wednesday.

Bahrain state television Tuesday announced King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa declared a three-month state of emergency as political violence intensified in the tiny island nation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement released through his spokesman said he "strongly believes that peaceful means should be adopted to ensure national unity and stability."

Gulf Arab foreign ministers pledged $20 billion in financial aid Thursday to Bahrain and Oman, and warned against any foreign interference as the oil-rich region struggles to rein in the unrest that has ravaged the Arab world and sent global oil prices spiking.

The growing protests in Bahrain and Oman -- the poorer brothers in the oil-rich region -- have rattled the other members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, raising concerns that the unrest tearing through the Middle East will affect the key OPEC members.

The GCC pledged $20 billion in aid over 10 years to be split between the two nations, said the United Arab Emirates' foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. A committee representing the donor nations will meet in two weeks to discuss the program.

Foreign ministers from the GCC announced the measures after a meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The bloc also issued a statement warning that it would not allow any foreign interference in their affairs.

The pro-Western Saudi monarchy -- the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries -- is concerned protests could open footholds for Shiite powerhouse Iran and it has accused Shiites from outside the country of spurring the protests in Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain and Oman have tried to allay the discontent in their countries through a variety of economic measures. But neither country has the economic firepower or oil wealth of the other GCC members: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

"This is a very important message sent to markets inside the region, and globally, that the GCC countries will be unified and will stick together to support those in need," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist with the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Banque Saudi Fransi. "They have the commitment and the willingness to do so, and of course, the money."

The combined economies of Bahrain and Oman are less than a fifth of that of Saudi Arabia and the sheer size of the financial aid package will be a major boost for their budgets.

The money will likely not be enough to tamp down the unrest completely, but the aid does allow Oman and Bahrain to press ahead more aggressively with social initiatives. Oman has been looking at some form of unemployment aid and would now have the funds to move forward with that plan and others.

Youth unemployment is a major problem for the nation.

Saudi Arabia also has been working to get ahead of unrest that has swept the region in recent months. Demonstrations could seriously unsettle oil markets that have already been shaken by the violence in Libya that has cut that OPEC nation's oil output by at least two-thirds.

On Thursday, Saudi police opened fire to disperse a protest in the mainly Shiite east, leaving at least one man injured, as the government struggled to prevent a wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world from reaching the kingdom.

The other Gulf states already have launched economic measures of their own to ease the potential for unrest. Saudi Arabia's king ordered roughly $37 billion to be pumped into various programs targeting the oil kingdom's lower income population. That amount was more than Bahrain's GDP.

Separately, the United Arab Emirates' federal government ordered a 5.7 billion dirham ($1.55 billion) cash infusion to upgrade the electrical grid and water connections in the seven-state federation's less-developed emirates north of Dubai.