The news of the Kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco possibly joining the Gulf Cooperation Council states was met with shock and awe amongst users of social media networks within minutes of its announcement. Shaikh Mohammad leads the UAE delegation at the annual Consultative Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh on Tuesday. Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and Abdul Latif Al Zayani, GCC Secretary General, also attended. The developments in Yemen and the GCC mediation, the situation in Libya and Syria were on the summit’s agenda. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is considering requests from Morocco and Jordan to join the bloc, its secretary-general said in a news conference on Tuesday at the conclusion of the 13th annual Consultative Summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Abdul Latif Al Zayani said GCC foreign ministers would hold talks with the foreign ministers of both countries to “complete required procedures”, but it was unclear what kind of membership they were considering for the two Arab, non-Gulf countries.

“Leaders of the GCC welcomed the request of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to join the council and instructed the foreign ministers to enter into negotiations to complete the procedures,” Al Zayani said, adding that the same procedure would be followed with Morocco.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who led a high-powered UAE delegation to Riyadh, returned to the UAE last night.

On his arrival in Riyadh, Shaikh Mohammad was received at the Royal Hall of the King Khalid Air Base by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, other members of the royal family, ministers and senior military and civilian officials in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE delegation included Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister; Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs; Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs and other officials.

GCC leaders discussed tense relations with Iran and the politicial crisis in Yemen. They urged all sides in Yemen to sign up to a deal brokered by the bloc aimed at ending months of unrest.

The developments in Libya and Syria were also on the summit’s agenda.
Leaders also discussed relations with Iran in the light of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi’s tour of the region.

The summit also discussed its March decision to create a development fund of $20 billion to help Bahrain and Oman.

Saudi daily Al Watan yesterday said that GCC leaders must discuss “Iran’s attempts to interfere in their internal affairs”.

It also urged the GCC to work harder to “stop the bloodshed in Yemen through their initiative providing for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh”.

On a GCC delegation recently travelling to Syria to meet President Bashar Al Assad, Saudi analyst Abdul Aziz Al Sager, director of the Gulf Research Centre based in Dubai, said: “The GCC countries have not mediated, but may have offered advice to Al Assad stressing that the security solution is not the only solution and that reforms are necessary.”

— With additional inputs from WAM, AFP & Reuters