- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Gulf Arabs countries weigh closer union at Riyadh meeting
- Date: 15th May 2012
- Summary: RYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (MAY 14, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER PRINCE SAUDI AL FAISAL ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE LOGO OF GCC SUMMIT MEDIA SOUNDBITE (English) SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER PRINCE SAUDI AL FAISAL ,SAYING: "There was no step to have a special relationship between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia at this stage, although both countries I think would welcome closer association but we are in full cooperation with all the Gulf states to come up with the union of the six states." MEDIA SOUNDBITE (Arabic) SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER PRINCE SAUDI AL FAISAL ,ASKED WHAT OTHER ISSUES WERE DISCUSSED, SAYING: "Syria of course. Confidence in the effort to the UN mission and the Arab League began to decline dramatically and quickly." WIDE OF NEWS CONFERENCE. SOUNDBITE (English) SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER PRINCE SAUDI AL FAISAL ,SAYING: "I'm hoping that the six countries will unite at the next meeting." PRINCE SAUDI AL FAISAL LEAVING
- Embargoed: 30th May 2012 13:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAL5JJPIAK6HCAQOPFLGGMQSTL
- Story Text: Gulf Arab states met on Monday (May 14) at a summit of Gulf Arab leaders aimed at pooling efforts to neutralise Shi'ite Muslim protests in the region that they believe is instigated by Iran.
Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were expected to discuss closer political union between their states with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain among those expected to seek union first, building on already close ties that they share.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference after the meeting that no steps would be taken on a closer relationship between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where majority Shi'ites have been leading an uprising for democratic reforms for over a year, raising Saudi fears of an impact upon Shi'ites in its oil-producing Eastern Province.
"There was no step to have a special relationship between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, although both countries would welcome closer association," he said. "We're in full cooperation with all Gulf states to come up with the union."
Gulf Arab leaders met to discuss a closer political, economic and military union on Monday, part of a strategy by wealthy Sunni Muslim monarchies to counter Shi'ite Muslim discontent in Bahrain and Iran's growing influence.
Gulf sources had said the summit meeting in Riyadh was primarily aimed at setting the stage for closer union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which sent troops in March last year to help Manama in an initial effort to squash the uprising.
"I'm hoping that the six countries will unite in the next meeting," Saud al-Faisal said of a plan that analysts say faces considerable obstacles among Gulf leaders who have jealously guarded their turf.
He said that Gulf leaders had agreed to sign an agreement struck by interior ministers on closer security cooperation and that ministers would work "day and night" in economic, political, security and military committees set up since a summit last December to prepare the ground for union.
Another perceived threat spurring Gulf Arab integration is al Qaeda, whose militants have flourished in the disorder thrown up by the uprising in Yemen, on Saudi Arabia's southwest flank.
Formed in 1981 by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the GCC aimed to counter Iraqi and Iranian influence at the time.
Saudi King Abdullah called on the six to move "to the stage of unity in a single entity" at a summit last year. That meeting set up a committee to study the proposal.
The union calls for economic, political and military coordination and a new decision-making body based in Riyadh, replacing the current GCC Secretariat. The next summit is due in Manama in December.
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