Manama: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) could be the umbrella for all the monarchies in the Arab world after the six-member alliance on Tuesday welcomed bids by the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco to join it, its secretary general Abdul Latif Al Zayani said.
The foreign ministers of the six countries were tasked to start negotiations with their Jordanian and Moroccan counterparts to complete the required procedures, according to media reports from Riyadh where the leaders of the GCC states held their one-day annual advisory council.
The summit has no specific agenda, unlike the official annual rotating summit, usually held in December.
The membership of Jordan and Morocco would also have a deep political, social, economic, security and defence impact.
Jordan is geographically linked to Saudi Arabia and both kingdoms share terrestrial borders that stretch more than 700km.
Yemen has often said since the 1990s that it wanted to join the alliance, but several factors have hampered a positive response to its requests.
The Gulf Cooperation Council includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Bloc of monarchies
The bloc of monarchies was created in 1981 to coordinate political and economic policies. Following a meeting Tuesday in Riyadh, Gulf Arab leaders welcomed Jordan's request to join.
A statement on the Jordanian news agency said Jordan is seeking a free trade agreement with the GCC.
The six countries are seen as among the most influential of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' members.
They have relied on their oil wealth to secure political and economic clout. Last month the GCC sent troops into Bahrain, which is facing a rebellion against its monarchy.