Manama: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) interior ministers have signed a major security agreement, seen as “a crucial move forward towards full security integration”.

“The signing of the security agreement is a significant step that will consolidate efforts to expand cooperation and boost complementarity between the member countries in all security matters,” Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary-general, said.

“The ministers stressed the significance of bolstering cooperation and coordination between the various security agencies in the GCC through joint security strategies. They also highlighted the need to unify measures and procedures to help reinforce joint security work,” he said on Tuesday evening as the ministers signed the agreement in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

A proposal to set up a Gulf police reviewed by the ministers was delayed until further legal and technical studies are carried out, Al Zayani said.

According to reports, the security treaty allows the tracking down of lawbreakers and wanted people across the GCC countries regardless of their nationalities.

Under the treaty, each GCC country is bound to take legal action — based on its own legislation — against citizens or residents who interfere in the domestic affairs of another member. The member countries will exchange information and expertise to combat all forms of crime.

The treaty was endorsed by the GCC leaders at their annual advisory summit to promote collective security among the six member states.

The initial security agreement was announced in Manama in December 1994, but only Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman endorsed it. Qatar followed in 2009.

The GCC leaders at their 2010 summit in Kuwait called for upgrading it by a committee of experts and specialists from the GCC countries.

Al Zayani said at a press conference in Riyadh following the 14th GCC Consultative summit that all the member countries approved the accord and that the leaders had instructed their interior ministers to sign it.

Security officials last week said that the treaty would allow the GCC to deal with the latest events and changes in the region and with their negative consequences and impact on the national security of the GCC states.