GCC chases 'Gulf union' dream at Riyadh summit
Riyadh - Summit seeks political solution in Syria, calls for Yemen aid conference.
Published: Thu 10 Dec 2015, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Sun 16 Feb 2020, 8:34 PM
The Arab Gulf leaders on Thursday resolved to push ahead with their integration agenda in order to realise the dream of a borderless union.
The 46th Gulf Cooperation Council summit conference, held under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, decided to give the go-ahead for full integration between any member countries, hoping that others would join the union bandwagon.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his accompanying delegation attended the second day of the summit.
A communiqué issued by the leaders said the summit focused on the concept of integration - economic, political, social, military and security - that would ultimately lead to a union.
The communiqué said it was agreed to complete the remaining requirements for the customs union and a GCC common market set forth in Article I of the Economic Agreement between the GCC countries.
GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif Al Zayani, who delivered a speech at the end of the summit, called for boosting interaction among GCC citizens. He said the customs union is slated to be completed in 2016. "Decisive measures have been taken to simplify the customs procedures at border check points in a bid to remove them ultimately," he noted.
The leaders also agreed to form a common judicial authority by next year, and finalise a unified trade law and economic integration rules. They said the international community should assume a shared responsibility in the fight against extremism and terrorism and its elimination irrespective of its source.
They added that the GCC countries have done a lot in this regard and will continue their cooperation and coordination with brotherly and friendly countries.
"Terrorism has no religion, and our tolerant religion rejects it. Islam is the religion of moderation and tolerance," the leaders stressed.
The leaders also called for accelerating security and military cooperation to develop a defence shield against any foreign threat.
They endorsed a "political solution" for war-ravaged Syria, under an international framework agreed on last month.
They said they "support a political settlement... that guarantees the territorial integrity and independence of Syria."
The meeting follows an agreement last month in Vienna between diplomats from 17 countries, including Saudi Arabia, for a political transition and end to the Syrian war.
The GCC "welcomed the conclusions of the Vienna meetings", the Gulf statement said.
The Vienna plan set a January 1 target for peace talks and would see a transitional government set up in six months and elections in 18 months.
Later at a Press conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has two choices, "either to leave through negotiations" or be forcibly removed from power.
The summit called for an international reconstruction conference for Yemen after any deal to end its civil war, which has killed 6,000 people and caused widespread damage to the country's economy and infrastructure.
Yemeni warring parties are due to gather in Switzerland next week for United Nations-sponsored peace talks.
"The council members called for an international conference for Yemen reconstruction after the parties reach the aspired political solution," GCC Secretary-General Zayani said.
He said such a programme would be done in accordance with a "practical programme to rehabilitate the Yemeni economy and to ease its merger into the Gulf economies".
A seven-day cease-fire is expected to take effect when the peace talks commence on December 15.