KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah opened an annual Gulf summit on Tuesday with a call for an end to the “human catastrophe” in Syria.
He issued the plea as Ahmad Jarba, leader of Syria’s main opposition National Coalition, attended the opening of the summit and delivered a speech in which he appealed for urgent help from the Gulf states. “The human catastrophe is still ongoing in Syria which calls on us to double efforts and work with the international community, especially the UN Security Council which has remained unable to put an end to this human tragedy,” Sheikh Sabah said.
The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are due to discuss during the two-day summit a range of issues including the situation in Syria, ties with Iran and boosting economic cooperation between their member states. On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, is leading the delegation of the Kingdom to the summit. Qatar’s new Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani is attending the annual summit for the first time.
GCC foreign ministers on Monday night drew up a final agenda for the summit. In his speech, Sheikh Sabah said the Gulf states had “expressed their satisfaction with the interim Geneva deal… hoping it would succeed and lead to an everlasting agreement that would keep tension away from the region.” Kuwait’s State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah told reporters that talks over the union were still ongoing. “When consensus is reached, a special summit will convene in Riyadh to make the announcement,” he said. GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayyani said “consultations on the union are focusing on the best formula and method to best achieve the objectives of the proposed union.” Ties between the GCC states and Iran are expected to figure high on the agenda after the landmark deal reached last month between Tehran and world powers over its controversial nuclear program.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled Al-Jarallah told the official KUNA news agency on Tuesday that the final communique of the summit would welcome the nuclear deal. Jarallah said the summit would also approve setting up a unified GCC military command. He said the GCC summit would back taking part in the so-called Geneva 2 talks scheduled for January 22 at which a transitional government in Syria is due to be discussed. GCC states, which have a combined gross domestic product of $1.6 trillion, will also assess their economic integration projects, especially a slow-moving customs union and plans for a common currency. IINA