Saudi Crown Prince says GCC looks forward to strengthening ties with ASEAN countries

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Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries look forward to strengthening ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Friday during the opening speech at the GCC-ASEAN summit in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh.

“We look forward to strengthening relations with ASEAN nations in various domains,” the Crown Prince said, noting that Gulf countries are conducting 8 percent of their trade with ASEAN countries.

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MBS reiterated the Kingdom’s rejection of Israeli forces targeting Palestinian civilians in a speech during the opening of the Riyadh event.

The Crown Prince called for an end to the fighting and said “we are pained by the escalating violence that Gaza is witnessing.”

More than 1 million Palestinians, roughly half of Gaza’s population, have fled homes in the north and Gaza City after Israel told them to evacuate. Airstrikes continued across the entire territory, including in areas in the south that Israel had declared as “safe zones.”

A deadly attack on a hospital in the Gaza Strip which both Hamas and the Israeli side blame on the other, has claimed over 470 lives and injured over 300. Totally, since Hamas’ all-out attack nearly two weeks ago, over 3,500 people have died in Gaza and over 1,400 in Israel, according to various estimates.

The ASEAN group has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; senior representatives of these nations are in Riyadh.
GCC leaders including UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad are also present.

Despite their diplomatic ties dating back to 1990, the summit in Riyadh marks the first official meeting between the two regional entities and is aimed at optimizing collaboration between them.

The current trade volume between ASEAN and GCC nations exceeds $110 billion.

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