GCC searches for peace in Yemen
Leading the UAE delegation in the GCC Summit, HH Shaikh Mohammed has a discussion with Saudi King Salman.
Riyadh - GCC leaders expected to unify Syrian opposition. The summit comes days before warring factions from Yemen are to gather in Switzerland in an effort to end the costly war.
The 36th GCC summit kicked off in Riyadh on Wednesday with the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, reiterating the regional bloc's resolve to find a peaceful solution to the Yemen crisis.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is heading the UAE delegation to the two-day summit.
In his inaugural address touching on a number of pressing issues, including terrorism and Syria, King Salman said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is keen on maintaining the security and stability of Yemen and empowering its legitimacy.
The summit comes days before warring factions from Yemen are to gather in Switzerland in an effort to end a costly war that has drawn in Gulf nations.
He stressed the regional group's resolve to fulfil the hopes and ambitions its citizens and maintain their security.
The Amir of Qatar, His Highness Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, explained the difficulties the region is experiencing now, but said the GCC countries, with all the capabilities they possess, can overcome them and fulfil the ambitions of its peoples.
The leaders, who later retreated for a closed-door session, are expected to voice support for a bid to unify Syria's opposition ahead of potential talks with President Bashar Al Assad's regime.
The summit coincides with Saudi Arabia's hosting of the Syrian talks it hopes could help ease out Assad. The Syria meeting, bringing together representatives of political and armed opposition factions, began earlier on Wednesday at a luxury hotel in Riyadh.
The GCC summit also comes days before Yemeni rivals are to gather in Switzerland to try to end a costly war that has drawn in Gulf nations.
"The main challenge facing the GCC summit is, as usual, trying to ensure a united front on the major strategic challenges in the region," said Neil Partrick, author of a forthcoming book on Saudi foreign policy.
Partrick said that with Saudi Arabia and Qatar competing to support Syrian rebel groups, the GCC summit is unlikely to offer much, except "broad support" for the opposition and conditional talks with the Assad administration.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in late November that if Assad does not step down peacefully "he could be ousted militarily".
For more than eight months, Gulf military forces have been fighting in Yemen to support President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government alongside an array of local anti-rebel forces.
The coalition has been trying to push Iran-backed Houthi rebels and allied troops from territory they occupied in Yemen.
Low oil prices "should focus the minds of GCC leaders" on economic matters, in line with the wishes of many Gulf citizens, said Jane Kinninmont of the Chatham House think-tank in London.
Crude prices have more than halved since early 2014 and the IMF has projected a $275 billion drop in export revenues this year for the resource-dependent Gulf economies.