The Gulf Co-operation Council-United Kingdom First Summit concluded in Manama yesterday. Following are excerpts from the joint communique.
GCC heads of state and UK Prime Minister Theresa May met on December 6-7 in Bahrain to reaffirm and deepen the strong partnership and co-operation between the GCC and the UK.
The leaders agreed to launch the GCC-UK strategic partnership to foster closer relations in all fields, including political, defence, security, and trade, as well as enhancing people-to-people contact, and developing collective approaches to regional issues to advance their shared interest in stability and prosperity.
The GCC and UK have a strong history in using all means at their disposal to secure their core interests in the Gulf region, including to tackle regional threats and threats to their security.
The GCC and UK partners share a deep interest in supporting the political independence and territorial integrity of GCC member states.
The UK remains committed to working with GCC states to deter external aggression and interference in their internal affairs contrary to international law and the UN Charter, just as it did during the Gulf War and on other occasions.
The GCC and UK expressed unequivocal commitment to secure, through the new GCC-UK Strategic Partnership, their shared security interests in the Gulf region, including to deter and respond to external aggression.
They committed to strengthening engagement on security assistance, co-operation and training.
The GCC and UK partners share a vision for a peaceful and prosperous region, and for addressing the most pressing regional conflicts (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, as well as the Middle East peace process), defeating violent extremists including Daesh, and countering Iran’s destabilising activities.
On regional conflicts, the leaders decided on a set of common principles, including a shared recognition that there is no military solution to the region’s armed civil conflicts.
These can only be resolved through political and peaceful means, respect for all states’ sovereignty and non-interference in their internal affairs contrary to international law, the need for inclusive governance in conflict-ridden societies, as well as protection of all minorities and of human rights.
The leaders committed to continue working towards a sustainable political resolution in Syria that ends the war and establishes an inclusive government that protects all ethnic and religious communities, and preserves state institutions.
The leaders reaffirmed that Assad has lost all legitimacy and has no role in Syria’s future.
The international community needs to be united in calling for the Assad regime and its backers, including Russia and Iran, to support a meaningful end to the violence, sustained humanitarian access and an inclusive political process.
The solution to the situation in Syria is an enduring political settlement based on transition away from the Assad regime to a government representative of all Syrians; and with which we work to fight terrorism.
They agreed to increase regional pressure on the Assad regime and its backers by heightening financial disruption and economic constraints.
They reaffirmed strong support for the Syrian opposition, brought together by the High Negotiations Committee, and their vision for political transition in Syria.
At the same time, they agreed to: encourage the moderate Syrian opposition to work hard to promote its vision to the Syrian people and international community; ensure the Syrian opposition remain committed to a negotiated political solution; and emphasise that armed groups must comply with International Humanitarian Law and minimise civilian casualties.
They strongly supported increased efforts to degrade and defeat Daesh in Syria, and warned against the influence of other extremist groups, such as Al Nusrah, Hezbollah and other sectarian organisations and Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, that represent a danger to the Syrian people, to the region and to the international community.
They expressed deep concern over the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria and condemned the prevention of aid distribution to the civilian population by the Assad regime or any other party.
The GCC member states and the UK further affirmed their commitment to assisting the Iraqi Government and the International Global Coalition in their fight against Daesh, including post-liberation stabilisation efforts.
As Daesh grapples with its failure and loss of territory, it will attempt to recalibrate its definition of success.
In order to defeat Daesh, the GCC member states and the UK recognise the need to continue to scale-up Coalition efforts to marginalise their brand and encourage alternative narratives, supporting the work of the Counter Daesh Coalition Communications Cell.
To be successful, they acknowledge it will require the engagement of all Coalition countries to create opportunities and build resilience in vulnerable communities.
The GCC and the UK also agreed to support effort to de-mine areas cleared of Daesh.
They stressed the importance of strengthening ties between Iraq and its neighbours, based on the principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in internal affairs contrary to international law, and respect for state sovereignty.
They encouraged the Iraqi Government to achieve genuine national reconciliation by urgently addressing the legitimate grievances of all elements of Iraqi society through the implementation of reforms, including those previously agreed, and by ensuring that all armed groups operate under the strict control of the Iraqi state.
They welcomed the initiative of the Iraqi, UK and Belgian Governments for a UN-led, global campaign to bring Daesh to justice.
With regard to Yemen, both the GCC member states and the UK emphasised the need to resolve the conflict peacefully through political dialogue and negotiations facilitated by the UN based on the GCC initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and other relevant UNSC Resolutions.
They pledged continued support for the UN Special Envoy and the UN-led peace process, and endorsed the roadmap presented by the UN Special Envoy to the Yemeni parties, which sets out clearly the path to a comprehensive agreement including sequencing of security and political steps that must be taken.
They urged the Yemeni parties to engage with the UN in good faith and to adhere to the UN-proposed Cessation of Hostilities under the same terms and conditions entered into on 10 April 2016.
They rejected the unilateral actions by the parties in Sanaa around the formulation of a political counsel and a government, which undermine the UN facilitated peace efforts.
Given the dire humanitarian and economic situation, the GCC member states and UK stressed the utmost importance of the parties to the conflict ensuring the security and safety of humanitarian workers, to take all feasible steps to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to allow for unhindered commercial and humanitarian access, and to commit significant funding to the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen for 2017.
The GCC member states and the UK look forward to working together on Yemen’s reconstruction - including rehabilitating the economy, sea ports, and public services - once the peace process is concluded.
They supported humanitarian assistance being delivered to all parts of Yemen by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, other GCC states and UK aid organisations (including Department for International Development) and committed to scale-up those efforts.
They reaffirmed their commitment, in partnership with other members of the international community, to seek to prevent the resupply of weapons to Houthi forces and their allies in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 including anti-shipping and ballistic missiles which have the potential to inflict massive civilian casualties.
Finally, the UK and GCC member states also underscored the imperative of collective efforts to counter Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The leaders decided to move in concert to convince all Libyan parties to accept an inclusive power-sharing agreement under the framework of the UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement according to UNSC resolutions 2259, 2278 and the Skheirat Accord, and to continue to focus on countering the terrorist presence in the country.
The GCC member states and the United Kingdom strongly affirmed the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just, lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in an independent and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, based on the Arab Peace Initiative and UN
They urged the parties to demonstrate through policies and actions genuine advancement of a two-state solution.
determined to accelerate efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the means of their delivery, as well as advanced conventional weapons, by enhancing national controls on proliferation-sensitive items and technologies.
On humanitarian co-operation, the leaders recognised the substantial and continued efforts and means of cooperation in this area, and pledged to continue working closely to relieve the situation in Yemen and Syria.
The leaders pledged to deepen further GCC-UK relations on these and other issues in order to build an even stronger, enduring and comprehensive strategic partnership aimed at enhancing regional stability and prosperity.
Recognising that countering terrorism needs a continually adaptive approach, the GCC member states and the UK pledged to build on their shared commitment to address the acute threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates.
The GCC and the UK will hold a working group on counter-terrorism and border security to follow up on previous efforts to co-operate on border security, countering the financing of terrorism, cyber-security, and critical infrastructure protection.
The GCC member states and the UK oppose and will work together to counter Iran’s destabilising activities in the region.
They stressed the need for Iran to engage the region according to the principles of good neighbourliness, strict non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for territorial integrity, consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter, and for Iran to take concrete, practical steps to build trust and resolve its differences with its neighbours by peaceful means.
Building on their historical and strong bilateral ties and their newly founded Strategic Partnership, the GCC and UK leaders decided to enhance joint efforts to improve defence co-operation, as well as on maritime security and cyber-security.
The leaders decided to seek collaborative training and exercise opportunities that would develop GCC defence capacity, capability and interoperability, including for humanitarian and peace support operations, and combined crisis response planning.
The UK expressed its readiness to support GCC efforts to diversify their economies, provide more effective governance, and adapt to the new economic challenges, by emphasising innovation, non-oil industries, technical education and training, and services.
The GCC and the UK agreed to work together to co-ordinate their humanitarian and development assistance activities, especially in the region.
Additionally, they announced a new humanitarian and development co-operation Partnership Agreement with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.
Building on their strong track record of supporting refugees and fighting human trafficking, the GCC member states and the UK pledged to work together to enhance their efforts to support refugees and fight human trafficking through supporting victims and pursuing perpetrators.
GCC member states agreed to support the UK’s global ambition to end modern slavery (through the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal 8.7) and ensure compliance with international conventions on forced labour.
They will discuss initiatives to facilitate co-operation with flight carriers to combat human trafficking and to identify both traffickers and victims.
The Supreme Council expressed its firm stances towards the issues of the region, particularly the Palestinian cause, stressing that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace can be achieved only with the complete withdrawal of Israel from all Arab territories occupied in 1967, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Al Quds as its capital in accordance with Arab peace initiative and the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy.
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