Gulf security to be focus of GCC summit

By Rahul Dass, IANS
Sunday, December 5, 2010

ABU DHABI - A two-day summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with which India has strong ties, begins here Monday with a host of issues, including security challenges to the region, likely to come up at the 31st meeting of six-nation grouping in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The GCC was set up by an agreement concluded May 25, 1981 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia among Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE because of their special ties, geographic proximity, similar political systems based on Islamic belief and common political and strategic objectives.

“Our focus is Gulf security with a view to safeguarding our homelands and maintaining their integration,” GCC Secretary General Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah was quoted as saying.

UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has said: “We want the GCC Council to bring us together in addressing the various issues that threaten our world, cross borders and require joint effort and sound planning, including energy and environmental challenges.”

The Israeli-Palestinian talks and the dispute between Iran and UAE over three islands in the Gulf are some of the other issues likely to be taken up at the summit, media reports here said. The islands, Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, are controlled by Iran but claimed by the UAE.

Iran’s controversial nuclear programme may also be deliberated upon at the summit.

The GCC meet begins a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki meets his counterparts from Jordan, Yemen and Turkey as well as Bahrain’s crown prince during the Manama Dialogue.

Press TV Sunday said that in his meeting with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Mottaki said that such talks would help the stability and security of the Persian Gulf states.

India has friendly relations with all GCC member states and the bilateral trade between India and the GCC countries touched nearly $100 billion in 2009-10.

Nearly 60 percent of India’s crude oil import is met from this region. There is a new emphasis on energy diplomacy with India successfully bidding for oil blocks in Yemen, Qatar and Oman.

The Gulf countries also provide an excellent market potential for India’s manufactured goods and services.

All six countries are ruled by family-based sultanates and have high standards of living. Qatar was awarded the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup by football’s governing body in Zurich last week, the first time it will be held in this region.

The summit is being held in Abu Dhabi, the country’s largest of seven emirates with over 1.6 million residents.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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