As leaders from across the Gulf are set to gather in Riyadh on Tuesday for the 40th GCC summit, the body’s secretary general called for a united push to achieve the aspirations of the region’s citizens, promote interdependence and more co-operation.
Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani told state-run Saudi Press Agency on Monday that the plan for the meeting included numerous points related to the political, economic, defence, security and legal landscape of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
He also praised the achievements of the body in recent years, pointing to the rising intraregional trade up from $6 billion in 2003 to $147 billion in 2018.
“The GCC plays a vital and active role in enhancing the security and stability of the region,” Mr Al Zayani said.
The meeting showed leaders’ commitment to the GCC and their ability to overcome difficulties and challenges, he said.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash pointed to the challenges the body has faced in a tweet shortly after a ministerial-level meeting of the GCC on Monday, before the main summit.
“For those who want to be truthful and honest, the main diagnosis of the nature of the Cooperation Council is the primacy of the council’s interest,” he said. “Responsibility starts with the one who caused the crisis by reviewing his faulty policies that led to his isolation. Treatment starts with a commitment to pledges, restoration of credibility, cessation of supporting extremism and non-interference.
The minister’s comments appeared to be a reference to widespread speculation that Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad would attend as part of a thawing of relations after the 2017 Qatar crisis.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting extremists and meddling in the affairs of other states. Doha denies the accusations.
Gulf officials have long said that relations can be restored if Qatar takes serious action to address these concerns, including support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
It appears Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim may not attend Tuesday’s meeting as he left on Monday for Rwanda.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani is expected to attend the main summit while Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan Al Muraikhi attended the preparatory meeting on Monday.
Chaired by Dr Gargash on Monday, the foreign ministers’ meeting went over the topics to be discussed on Tuesday and reviewed reports submitted to the body by relevant councils and ministerial committees.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa, the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman Yousef bin Alawi and Sheikh Al Thani attended.