Gulf Ministers Hold Talks on Iraq
Senior ministers from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have held talks on the situation in Iraq in the Saudi border town of Hafer al-Baten, home to the GCC defense force, officials told AFP.
"It was an informal meeting focused on the latest developments in the Gulf region, notably the situation in Iraq," an official close to one of the delegations said on condition of anonymity.
Thursday's meeting was attended by Bahrain's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, Saudi and Emirati Defense Ministers Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Kuwaiti and Qatari Foreign Ministers Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, and senior Omani foreign affairs official Haitham bin Tareq.
"The participants in this meeting were not expected to take any decisions or adopt any specific resolutions, but merely to exchange points of view on Iraq," the official said.
The six senior representatives also inspected troops from Peninsula Shield, the joint Gulf defense force headquartered at Hafer Al-Baten, in the northeast of the kingdom.
Chiefs-of-staff from GCC members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are considering raising its size from 5,000 to 22,000 troops, said AFP.
The GCC signed a joint defense pact in December binding member states to defend one another against any outside threat, and is currently examining a radar network project costing 88 million dollars.
The oil-rich Gulf monarchies have signed defense pacts with Western powers and have granted US and British forces military facilities to enforce the embargo and no-fly zones imposed on Iraq.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia insist that Iraq is still a threat to its neighbors.
Kuwaiti’s position was reiterated at the Amman Arab Summit last month when it demanded a resolution by which Iraq be committed to respect its neighbor sovereignty. Iraq says Kuwait and Saudi Arabia do not respect its sovereignty when they allow US and British planes to attack the country from bases on their lands.
Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul Aziz said Tuesday that the Iraqi regime was still a threat to the entire Gulf region."
"The Iraqi regime repeats its threats (against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) and refuses the offers of those who want to put it back on the right track," Prince Nayef was quoted as saying by the official SPA agency.
The interior minister was alluding to the Iraqi rejection of a declaration drafted by Arab leaders during last week's Amman summit, aimed at solving the issue of Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations, according to SPA - Albawaba.com
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