GCC keen on strate­gic part­ner­ship with UK: Amir GCC - UK meet­ing tack­les need to quell re­gional un­rest

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said yes­ter­day that the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) re­gion was keen on bol­ster­ing strate­gic ties and re­la­tions with the UK. This state­ment came dur­ing the fi­nal ses­sion of the 37th GCC Sum­mit held in the Bahraini cap­i­tal Manama. The event was at­tended by Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and GCC lead­ers.

De­liv­er­ing a speech to the event, His High­ness the Amir thanked the Bahraini monarch King Ha­mad bin Isa Al-Khal­ifa and the peo­ple of Bahrain for host­ing the 37th GCC Sum­mit, say­ing that this was re­flec­tive of the King­dom’s ef­forts in boost­ing re­la­tions among na­tions within the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional are­nas.

The sum­mit was within the ef­forts to en­hance strate­gic, eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the UK and the GCC, af­firmed His High­ness the Amir, adding that his­tory proved that re­la­tions be­tween the two sides were built on trust and a strong de­sire to bring se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity to the re­gion and the world. His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah men­tioned that the two sides were co­or­di­nat­ing ef­forts on all lev­els.

On UK-Kuwaiti re­la­tions, His High­ness Sheikh Sabah said that his coun­try was proud to have his­tor­i­cal ties with Great Bri­tain, af­firm­ing that both na­tions were ea­ger to bol­ster ties on all lev­els. The Kuwaiti leader fondly re­mem­bered the strong UK stance with his coun­try dur­ing the Iraqi in­va­sion in 1990, say­ing that Bri­tain played a piv­otal role in lib­er­at­ing Kuwait from the Iraqi ag­gres­sors in 1991. His High­ness the Amir con­cluded his speech by wel­com­ing the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May to the re­gion, re-af­firm­ing that the GCC will seek all venues to boost ties with the UK.

A meet­ing be­tween GCC lead­ers and the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter May has un­der­scored the ur­gent need to find a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the con­flict in Yemen. A state­ment is­sued af­ter the meet­ing, which oc­curred on the side­lines of the GCC Sum­mit that con­cluded yes­ter­day, called for in­creased sup­port of the United Na­tions’ (UN) Spe­cial En­voy for Yemen Is­mail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, as he works to es­tab­lish a roadmap for peace in the war-torn na­tion.

More­over, the state­ment urged Yemen’s war­ring par­ties to re­main com­mit­ted to the peace process, adding that max­i­mal ef­forts should be ex­pended to en­sure the safety of hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers in the coun­try.

The state­ment also ramped up pres­sure on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to ex­ert more ef­forts to put an end to a con­flict that has re­mained un­abated, un­der­scor­ing the need to abide by the UN res­o­lu­tion 2216, which de­mands an end to the vi­o­lence in Yemen.

Ad­dress­ing the con­flict in Syria, the state­ment un­der­scored the need to en­sure a sus­tained po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the con­flict, while form­ing a gov­ern­ment that will rep­re­sent the Syr­ian peo­ple. It also added that the so­lu­tion should guar­an­tee an im­me­di­ate end to vi­o­lence in the coun­try.

On de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian con­di­tions in Syria, the state­ment ex­pressed “con­cern”, while con­demn­ing any at­tempts to stall the ad­vent of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid into be­sieged ar­eas. Sim­i­larly, on the sit­u­a­tion in Iraq, the state­ment un­der­scored the need of in­creased sup­port of the Iraqi gov­ern­ment in the fight to de­feat the So-called Is­lamic State (IS), which can only be pos­si­ble with con­certed in­ter­na­tional ef­forts.

On Libya, the state­ment urged all sides in the con­flict to en­dorse a plan where au­thor­ity in the North African na­tion will be evenly shared, in line with UN res­o­lu­tions and de­ci­sions. Mean­while, on Le­banon, the state­ment pressed na­tional in­sti­tu­tions to fight all forms of ter­ror­ism that threaten the coun­try’s peace and se­cu­rity.

GCC lead­ers and the Bri­tish pre­mier pledged to main­tain the mu­tual obli­ga­tion to “face dan­ger­ous threats caused” by the no­to­ri­ous groups Al-Qaeda and so-called Is­lamic States as well as their off­shoot fac­tions.

The two sides de­cided to form a joint task team charged with com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and safe­guard­ing states’ bor­der se­cu­rity. They also vowed to work to­gether for track­ing down, ar­rest­ing and prose­cut­ing ter­ror­ists, in line with na­tional and in­ter­na­tional laws. They have de­cided to boost the ac­tion against ter­ror­ism fund­ing, en­hance in­tel­li­gence co­op­er­a­tion and swap in­for­ma­tion on ter­ror­ists’ where­abouts.

More­over, the UK and the GCC agreed to bol­ster joint ef­forts for co­op­er­a­tion in the de­fense, cy­ber and marine se­cu­rity, in ad­di­tion to or­ga­niz­ing mu­tual train­ing cour­ses and drills. They have also agreed on co­op­er­a­tion for abort­ing cy­ber, at­tacks, hack­ing and mis­use, en­hanc­ing mil­i­tary co­or­di­na­tion, strength­en­ing de­fenses of the re­gional coun­tries, in­clud­ing the marine borders. GCC lead­ers and the Bri­tish pre­mier also de­cided to en­hance mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion at the com­mer­cial and busi­ness lev­els, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial state­ment re­leased af­ter the meet­ing. The state­ment said vol­ume of trade ex­changes be­tween the UK and the GCC coun­tries ex­ceeded 30 bil­lion ster­ling pounds last year. It con­firmed that the UK, once it has ac­com­plished the ‘Brexit’, it would act as a pri­or­ity to ce­ment the com­mer­cial and eco­nomic re­la­tions with the GCC states.

The two sides agreed on hold­ing the Bri­tishGulf con­fer­ence on part­ner­ship be­tween the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors in the first quar­ter of 2017, in Lon­don, “which will fo­cus on the schemes for eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion in the GCC coun­tries.”

MANAMA: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May (cen­ter) poses with Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) lead­ers for a group pic­ture yes­ter­day, dur­ing a GCC sum­mit in the Bahraini cap­i­tal Manama. — AFP

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