A joint ministerial meeting between the United Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council was held on Thursday in London to discuss wider cooperation between the UK and the gulf countries as well as to explore ways of enhancing the relations in various fields.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who is also the current chairman of the GCC ministerial council, co-chaired the second strategic dialogue along with the British foreign secretary William Hague.
“We agreed that a Joint Action Plan should be developed on issues that concern us all, including the maintenance of peace and security in the region, economic prosperity, and strengthening cooperation in trade, investment and consular activities,” Hague said in a statement.
The meeting comes at a time of growing tension in the Middle East, especially with on-going killings in Syria and the Iranian nuclear ambitions.
Commenting on the situation in Syria, Hague said that the GCC-UK partnership is working hard together to increase pressure on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to end the violence and allow a political transmission.
Hague, meanwhile, updated the GCC ministers on the recent progress in talks between Iran and the world powers in Moscow saying.
“I made clear that we remain committed to finding a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, but that the pressure will only increase on Iran until it shows it is willing to take urgent, concrete steps to build confidence that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful,” Hague said.
The situation in Yemen and ways to overcome the obstacles to implement the Gulf initiative and its decisions were also highlighted by the ministerial meeting in London.
Britain is a strategic partner for the GCC states and plays a prominent role in maintaining security and stability in the region, which is strategically an important part of the world with increasing political influence.
The GCC countries pursue strategic dialogues with everyone and with important countries in the world, and the United Kingdom is a very important one by all standards, according to Khaled al-Jandan from the Saudi Foreign Ministry.
It is natural to cooperate with the UK in developing our historical ties to expand it in the interest of both parties, he said.
The meetings also touched on how private sectors in the UK and the GCC states could take advantage of the opportunities created by the governments as part of wider efforts to boost investment relations, which are of big significance to the UK.
Over 160,000 British nationals live and work in the GCC states. UK exports around £15 billion ($23.5 billion) worth of goods and services to the GCC states, which is on a par with China and India combined.
The GCC ministerial group will have similar meetings with the EU next Monday in Luxembourg.