GCC appeals for end to massacre


In a statement issued at the end of the 29th GCC summit in Muscat, the Gulf leaders called on the international community to take immediate steps to stop the massacre of Palestinians and Israel’s withdrawal from all the occupied lands.

“The GCC strongly condemns this Israeli aggression and holds Israel responsible for the dangerous course events have taken as a result of its inhumane policies toward the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

Sultan Qaboos of Oman presided over the two-day summit. Participants included Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. The statement also called on the warring Palestinian factions to reconcile in their struggle for an independent state, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The leaders also wanted US President-elect Barack Obama to put the Palestinian issue on top of his list of foreign policy priorities.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal is scheduled to chair an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo today. It will discuss the current situation in Palestine.

In other resolutions, the GCC leaders agreed on the final draft of an accord on a GCC monetary union to be launched next year, the statement said.

The accord provides for the creation of a monetary council ahead of establishing a GCC central bank that would be charged with issuing the future single currency and completing the technical steps of the monetary union. However the date for the launch of the single currency has not yet been decided.

GCC leaders stuck to the 2010 date during their previous summit in Doha, although Oman pulled out of the plan and Kuwait decided to part ways with the others on pegging its currency to the US dollar.

GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah said the location of the central bank would be decided in the middle of 2009.

The statement commended King Abdullah for holding the interfaith dialogues in Madrid and at the last United Nations’ General Assembly meeting.

The statement congratulated recently elected Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

The summit also decided to form a ministerial committee to address what the GCC states should be doing in tandem to stabilize oil prices.

It expressed satisfaction over the coordination among the GCC member countries in security matters, including the wars on drug trafficking and terrorism. The communiqué expressed the group’s concern over the growing menace of piracy in waters off Somalia.

The summit reviewed the progress in the joint military project of Al-Jazirah Shield and discussed joint action on increased nationalization of jobs in member countries.

The leaders backed the claim of the United Arab Emirates to three islands currently occupied by Iran and appealed to Tehran to cooperate with the efforts of the UAE to settle the issue through direct negotiations or with the help of the International Court of Justice.

The GCC also reiterated its demand to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone.

The Gulf leaders stressed the need to respect the integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Iraq and preservation of its Arab and Islamic identity.

The summit noted the success of the Lebanese leaders in achieving security, peace and stability in Lebanon.

It directed a ministerial committee to take measures to ease the negative effects of the ongoing economic meltdown on the economies of the member states.

The statement stressed the need to develop a knowledge-based economy. “It should also prepare the investment climate in the region and strengthen its competitiveness that makes it qualified to merge with the global economy,” the statement said.

The leaders called on the member countries to take steps to consolidate the achievements of the GCC countries in developing their human and other resources with the help of modern science and technology.

The next summit will be held in Kuwait, but a date has not been announced.

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