RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
Published — Monday 4 March 2013
Last update 6 March 2013 4:30 am
Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held talks yesterday on key regional issues amid growing doubts in the region about Washington’s willingness and ability to tackle the daunting crisis in Syria and concerns over simmering tensions with Iran and a lifeless Middle East peace process. US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in Riyadh last night, was to meet later with the GCC foreign ministers. Kerry, who is scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, will address a joint press conference with the prince today. Kerry will also meet with GCC foreign ministers separately during his stay in Riyadh. Kerry’s talks with GCC foreign ministers will focus on a range of regional issues with special reference to Syria, Iran and the Middle East peace process.
In his opening statement at the GCC ministerial meeting, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad wAl-Khalifa gave a brief overview of the meeting agenda and the topics that deserve special attention. On the question of Iran, he said that “the Gulf states had always tried to maintain good neighborly relations with Iran, but unfortunately, Iran still intervenes in the GCC’s internal affairs and occupies the UAE islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs.” He said that Iran rejected any discussion or peaceful solution through negotiation and international arbitration.
Kerry’s trip comes at a time when ties between the US and the GCC are stronger than ever both commercially and culturally. Asked about any commercial interaction during Kerry’s visit to Riyadh, Saud Al-Suwaileh, a spokesman of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, said there will be no commercial meeting during the visit.
Before the visit, the US State Department said Kerry would meet with the Saudi leadership and discuss our cooperation on a broad range of shared concerns.”