Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Tuesday welcomed the heads of delegations from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for the 40th summit in Riyadh to discuss regional and global political developments.
The summit, held under the chairmanship of King Salman, will see heads of state discuss key topics that include maritime security, Iran’s interference in the region, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Syrian crisis, the war in Yemen, as well as enhancing cooperation within the council.
King Salman extended an invitation to the leaders of the six-nation alliance, including Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, last week.
King Salman received the head of the delegations on Tuesday, including the UAE delegate Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and Oman's delegate Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers.
The UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos were unable to attend.
The invitation to Sheikh Tamim comes amid signs of reduced animosity between Qatar and the Kingdom. However, diplomatic sources and analysts told Al Arabiya that the summit is not expected to produce a breakthrough in the stand-off with Qatar despite recent reports of exploratory talks.
Sheikh Tamim instead sent as his representative Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
This year’s annual summit comes amid heightened regional tensions following the September 14 attacks on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities and on vessels in the region, which Iran is widely accused of carrying out.
Ahead of the summit, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the Gulf countries arrived in the capital on Monday to hold a preparatory ministerial council meeting to set the agenda for the following day.
GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani said during the preparatory meeting with Gulf foreign ministers on Monday that the summit reflects the GCC leaders’ desire to bolster relations and ensure the region’s security and stability.
Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah announced on Monday that the Gulf foreign ministers unanimously approved the nomination of former Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef al-Hajraf as the next secretary-general of the GCC, who will begin his term in April 2020 following the end of al-Zayani’s term.