GCC-EU agree on joint efforts to tackle regional challenges

The two sides welcomed the strengthening of their political dialogue, especially by holding regular meetings of senior GCC-EU officials

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Foreign ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and European Union (EU) countries agreed to further strengthen their ties to serve as a robust and effective basis for regional and international stability and security.

This came during the 25th session of the GCC-EU Joint Ministerial Council here on Monday.

The session was co-chaired by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, the chairman of the current session of the GCC Ministerial Council, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission Federica Mogherini.

It was held in the presence of GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani.

The two sides welcomed the strengthening of their political dialogue, especially by holding regular meetings of senior GCC-EU officials.

The ministers exchanged views and identified common concerns and priorities with regard to the situation in the region, particularly in Yemen, Iran, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Middle East peace process.

They stressed the strategic importance of close coordination between the GCC and the EU on these developments.

They welcomed the resumption of consultations among the Yemeni parties in Kuwait, and reaffirmed their support for efforts of the UN special envoy to Yemen to facilitate a comprehensive settlement among the Yemeni parties to restore peace and the resumption of the transitional process in line with the GCC initiative, the outcome of the national dialogue, the UN Security Council resolution 2216 and other relevant resolutions.

They also expressed their determination to continue to combat terrorism and its financing and defeat Daesh and the other terrorist organizations.

The ministers agreed on the need to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis, according to the principles of the Geneva 1 pact, Security Council resolution 2254 and other relevant resolutions, and to allow humanitarian aid to reach all besieged areas.

They also stressed the importance of respecting the cessation of hostilities without violations and providing a suitable environment for the success of negotiations.

The ministers expressed their support for reconciliation efforts to restore stability in Iraq, Libya and Lebanon.

They discussed the GCC-Iranian relations and stressed the importance for all states in the region to adhere to the UN Charter, international law, the principles of good neighborliness, respect of national sovereignty of states, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use or threat of force and peaceful settlement of disputes.

The ministers expressed their willingness to work together to address common political, social, economic and security challenges, and the challenges of economic stability and supporting the economic diversification strategies, such as the Saudi national transformation program and similar plans in the GCC countries.

They expressed satisfaction that the GCC-EU bilateral trade accounted for more than 155 billion euros in 2015, an increase of 55% since 2010.

The ministers welcomed the cooperation initiatives since the last ministerial meetings, especially through the GCC-EU dialogue on economy, air transport, exchanges on rail transport, and cooperation in the field of economic diversification.

The ministers also welcomed the holding of the GCC-European businessmen forum in Brussels on May 23 to 24, 2016, as the event is important for the promotion and development of economic and trade ties and investment opportunities between the GCC countries and the European Union.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Al-Jubeir held talks with his French, Belgian, German and Irish counterparts.

The GCC foreign ministers also held a joint meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the presence of GCC Secretary General Al-Zayani.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on July 20, 2016.