Manama: Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said that transforming the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into a union would not affect the sovereignty of any member country.

The union will not be used as a medium to interfere in their domestic affairs, either, Prince Saud Al Faisal told the meeting of GCC foreign ministers in Riyadh on Sunday evening.

"The proposal to move into a union is based on the conviction that the performance of the council would be enhanced after 32 years of coordination and on Article Four of the Charter," he was quoted saying by London-based Saudi daily Al Sharq Al Awsat.

The GCC, established in May 1981 in Abu Dhabi, is composed of Bahrain, Kuwaiti, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Single entity

During the GCC summit in December, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz called on the six-member GCC to move from the phase of cooperation to the phase of union within a single entity.

The call was enthusiastically supported by Gulf citizens seeking greater integration, despite concerns among others about constitutional and social divergences between the member states.

A committee representing the member states, set up to look into the matter and submit remarks and recommendations, held its first meeting on February 21 and 22. Its report was presented to the GCC foreign ministers at their meeting in Riyadh.

"The proposal for the union is based on the premise that the challenges around us demand that we take a leap forward in order to be better qualified and adequately empowered to confront them as a unified bloc. Of course, there is awareness that there remain many cooperation and coordination aspects between us to be completed and a need to exert all efforts to remove obstacles and impediments," Prince Saud said.

The GCC has accomplished over the years numerous achievements and has made positive impacts on its citizens, he said.

"The GCC has acquired a great deal of influence and effectiveness in dealing with events; however, the new developments and our urgent need to confront challenges and accelerated changes require a union that is more robustly cohesive and better able to tackle them," he said.

The structure and performance of the union will depend on the visions and recommendations of dedicated committees with expertise that spans common political, security, military and economic work, he said.

All the union committees will operate according to the approved measures and within specific timeframes, Prince Saud said.