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GCC ministers condemn Houthi attacks, affirm unity

RIYADH: GCC foreign ministers attend the 147th session of the GCC ministerial council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia yesterday. – KUNA

RIYADH: The GCC ministerial council, at end of its 147th session yesterday, affirmed commitment to the final statement of the latest GCC summit declarations — alluding to the resolutions of the summit that was hosted by the Saudi town of Al-Ula on January 5. In the highlights of the meeting statement, the GCC foreign ministers and officials condemned the Houthis’ recurring attacks on Saudi Arabia, namely its vital oil installations, Iran’s occupation of UAE islands and affirmed that the council member states have remained solidly unified.

Security of the GCC member states is inseparable, in line with the GCC constituent law and the joint defense treaty stipulating that these countries would stand together in the face of any external danger the meeting final statement said — read by the GCC Secretary General Nayef Al-Hajraf. The ministers decried the March 7 attack with a drone that swooped from the sea targeting petroleum tanks in Ras Tannura (Saudi Arabia) and targeting facilities of the Aramco oil company in Al-Dharan with a ballistic missile, as well as the recurring spates of Houthi terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia.

They affirmed support for the kingdom with respect of the measures it may take against such provocative acts that target civilians, civil sites, ports, key oil installations and sources for global energy. These acts breach international laws and conventions, threaten the region security and stability, the statement said, lauding preparedness of the Saudi forces and calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities toward these acts of terrorism and sabotage and the powers behind them.

GCC achievements
The ministers acclaimed the GCC achievements over the past, affirming that the council has remained sold and unified hoping that more accomplishments would be made for further prosperity, progress and sustainable development for the GCC peoples. The ministers during the meeting examined efforts undertaken by the GCC Secretariat General for implementing resolutions of the GCC Supreme Council 41st Session (the Summit of Sultan Qaboos and Sheikh Sabah), and visionary plans advocated by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz for boosting joint action, strengthening the GCC economies, completing the requirements for the joint custom union, the common gulf market as a prelude to achieve the GCC economic unity by 2025.

The ministerial council applauded the continuing efforts exerted by the GCC armed forces to implement all resolutions related to the joint military action particularly with regard of activating the joint military command and pursuing work for attaining military integration of the GCC countries’ forces. At the health level, the ministers praised the ongoing efforts by the health authorities in the council member countries to cope with repercussions of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), affirming necessity of exchanging expertise, also lauding citizens’ cooperation and their effective contributions in this regard.

As to Iran’s occupation of the three UAE islands, the council underlined the GCC unwavering stance, rejecting the Iranian occupation of Greater Tonb, Smaller Tonb and Abou Moussa, affirming the UAE sovereignty over the three islands, the UAE territorial waters, the territorial airspace, the continental shelf, the economic zone as inseparable parts of the UAE territories. The council has considered that any “practices or acts” on part of Iran on the islands as “cancelled and have no impact whatsoever on the UAE sovereignty on the three islands.”

The council called on Iran to respond to the UAE efforts to resolve the issue through direct negotiations or refer the question to the International Court of Justice. On the Palestinian cause, the council affirmed the member states’ call for establishing an independent Palestinian state with the June 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of this state, in addition to ensuring rights of the refugees according to the Arab Peace Initiative, international reference and resolutions of the international legitimacy.

The ministers applauded a recent decision by the Palestinian president to hold elections in all Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem and hailed Egypt for hosting the Palestinian dialogue designed to tackle rifts among Palestinian factions. They greeted a resolution by the first preliminary circuit of the International Criminal Court, stipulating that the regional jurisdictions of the of court in Palestine cover the Palestinian territories that have been occupied by Israel since 1967, including Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Moreover, the ministers condemned Israel’s construction of settlements, the demolishing of Palestinians’ houses, altering the demographic status in the occupied territories that explicitly breach the international law and relevant international resolutions.

Relations with Iran
The GCC ministers, in their statement, noted the GCC unwavering stances with respect of the relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, stressing on the necessity that future negotiations with Tehran must be in a single package, incorporating “Iran’s conducts that undermine security and stability in the region, the world, its sponsorship of terrorism, its missile program namely the Ballistic and Cruise missiles, the drones, the nuclear program, the safety of navigation in the Gulf,” noting the necessity that the GCC states must partake in such negotiations.

The ministerial council denounced Iran’s continuing support for terrorist militias and sectarian militias that threaten the Arab national security and seek to undermine stability in the Arab states. On the Syrian question, the council affirmed the GCC stances and unwavering resolutions regarding the Syrian crisis according to Geneva Principles (1), Security Council Resolution 2254, expressing support for the fifth convention for supporting future of Syria and the region, due in Brussels on March 29-20.

On Yemen, the ministers voiced backing for missions by the UN and US envoys to halt the fighting and pave way for talks on the basis of the national dialogue conference and the Security Council Resolution 2216.The GCC council affirmed support for the Yemeni Government that began its tasks in the interim capital Aden on December 30.It sternly condemned attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militias on civilians and civilian targets and the refugee camps in Maarib with ballistic missiles and drones.

Moreover, it decried using refugees in Maarib as human shields. The council lauded the GCC financial contributions that accounted to 40 percent of the pledges during Yemen’s donors conference that was held on March 1 to fund the UN relief scheme for the war-haggard country in 2021, also hailing the humanitarian efforts by King Salman Relief Program for Yemen’s reconstruction. The GCC ministers condemned Houthis’ bids to hamper the mission of the UN team tasked with examining status of the abandoned oil tanker Safer in the Red Sea, urging the UN to try again reach it and spare the region a looming environmental catastrophe.

On Iraq, the GCC officials expressed support for efforts aimed at restoring security and stability to the brotherly nation lauding efforts by the government and the international coalition to deter terrorist groups and armed militias. The council condemned recurring terrorist operations aimed at jeopardizing Iraq’s security and stability and snagging efforts for holding elections. On Libya, the council applauded the recent conciliation agreement that led to the formation of a new government. – KUNA


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