GCC foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Iran and counterterrorism

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Gulf foreign ministers met in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss a range of issues including counterterrorism efforts and relations with Iran, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

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Chaired by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s 153rd ministerial meeting brought together diplomats from the Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Regarding recent nuclear talks between western powers and Iran, the council stressed the need to address the Islamic Republic’s “destabilizing behavior” in the Middle East.

It also voiced the importance of addressing Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and sectarian militias, its missile program, and its threats to the safety of international shipping and oil facilities.

Commenting on recent developments, GCC ministers praised the US killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul on July 31, pointing to the fact that he had been responsible for a number of terrorist activities in Saudi Arabia and abroad.

The council also condemned recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Somalia, which resulted in a number of deaths – including the bombing of a mosque in Herat and a bus in Mogadishu on September 2.

On the war in Yemen, the council condemned the large-scale attack launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia on the al-Dhabab area, west of Taiz.

The area has been under siege for years and has faced renewed attacks in the past week.

Iran’s interference in Yemen’s internal affairs was also scrutinized at the meeting.

The Islamic Republic allegedly supplies arms to the Houthi militia.

In July, British officials said that a Royal Navy ship had intercepted a shipment of Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman, providing “some of the strongest” evidence to date that Iran has been smuggling weapons to the militia.

The council also affirmed that the Palestinian cause is the “first issue of Arabs and Muslims,” and expressed support for the establishment of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Ministers also hosted the first joint meeting of the GCC and representatives from Central Asia.

Prince Faisal stressed the importance of cooperation between the two regions, highlighting their similarities in natural resource wealth and human capital.

The Saudi foreign minister expressed the council’s keenness to cooperate in trade, tourism, energy, and investment among other fields.

A meeting of GCC justice ministers was also held on Wednesday, discussing issues such as the extradition of criminals from Gulf states.

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