Morocco, Jordan on way to to GCC alliance
The GCC expansion set to confirm and take new members, Jordan and Morocco, into the fold.
The six GCC foreign ministers met their counterparts from Jordan and Morocco to consider "a five-year economic development plan to support Jordan," said Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
"This plan also applies to Morocco," GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani told reporters after the meeting, the first to include the Jordanian and Moroccan ministers since a GCC decision in May to consider accepting the two countries into the regional alliance.
"A working group was formed to study the procedures for the accession of Jordan to the GCC," said Judeh, and added there is no timetable on when the country will join. "Discussions will continue," he said.
His Moroccan counterpart Taeib Fassi Fihri said his country was "anxious to have good relations and strong cooperation with the GCC." Jordan is an immediate neighbor of Saudi Arabia and a major trading partner of alliance countries, but Morocco is geographically distant from the Gulf.
"The geographical distance is no obstacle to a strong relationship," said Fihri.
The GCC, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has remained an exclusive club since its inception in 1981. Jordan and Morocco are the only Arab kingdoms not in the GCC.
Al-Zayani said the GCC ministers also discussed Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has so far refused to sign a plan by the alliance following months of protests calling for his ouster.
He said the plan, which calls for Saleh to transfer power to his deputy, was "still on the table," and that the GCC hoped for "an agreement." Al-Zayani also welcomed the new authorities who took power in Libya after ousting strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
"We call for the restoration of security and stability, as well as for tolerance and the opening of a new page" in Libya, he said.
A GCC closing statement also mentioned Iran and Syria.
It called for "an immediate end to the killing machine" in Syria, and urged "the immediate implementation of serious reforms that meet the aspirations of the Syrian" people.
Last month, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain recalled their envoys from Damascus to protest President Bashar Assad's crackdown on anti-regime protests that began in March. The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed since.
The GCC statement also accused Iran of issuing provocative statements about its members.
It deplored Iranian statements "challenging some GCC countries, in disregard of the rules of good neighborliness," saying "these statements do not help improve relations between the sides."
The ministers reiterated their support for the security and stability of Bahrain and supported the measures taken by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa in this respect.
The meeting, chaired by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed Bahrain’s decision to hold elections by the end of this month and hoped it would contribute to political reforms. The GCC also backed Libya’s National Transition Council.
The meeting supported the measures taken by the relevant committees to confront terrorism and called for the establishment of an international counterterrorism center to exchange information and expertise. The ministers urged Iran not to interfere in the GCC affairs and settle differences through peaceful means. They expressed concern over the provocative statements of some Iranian officials against GCC member states. “Iran has to stop such statements and media campaigns if it wants to better its relations with the GCC,” the ministers said.
Regarding the Palestine issue, the meeting said Middle East peace would not be achieved without Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territories to the 1967 border as well as from Syria’s Golan Heights and South Lebanon. It praised the ongoing efforts to achieve UN recognition of the Palestinian state and urged the international community to take a firm stand on forcing Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders. It urged the international community to force Israel to lift its siege of Gaza.
The meeting expressed concern over the worsening situation in Yemen and called for making preparations for the peaceful transition of power. The GCC reiterated its support for Yemen’s security and stability. It supported Kuwait on its plan to establish Mubarak Al-Kabir port on its territory. It also called for an end to the bloodbath in Syria. The GCC extended its support to the National Transition Council of Libya.
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