Sanaa Renews Diplomatic Efforts to Join GCC

RIYADH – Yemen has renewed diplomatic efforts to join the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) something, which is to be at the top of the agenda when Yemeni officials meet Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, during his visit to Sanaa next week. Prince Sultan is scheduled to visit Yemen on May 31.

“Yemen reiterates its wish to join the GCC and is qualified to gain GCC membership; said Abdullah Al-Ahwal, Yemen’s ambassador to the Kingdom in a statement yesterday. Full GCC membership for Yemen will reflect the historical ties that links the country to the rest of the Arab Gulf, said the diplomat.

Al-Ahwal added that Prince Sultan will hold talks with Yemeni leaders including President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Prime Minister Abdu Qader Ba-Jammal to discuss steps Yemen needs to take prior to joining the GCC.

“Yemen, with its historical heritage, political strength and strategic importance for security and stability in the Arabian Peninsula and in the GCC countries is qualified to join,” said the statement.

Yemeni diplomats have said that it would be in the interest of Yemen and various other Gulf states to allow Sanaa to enter the GCC grouping. The diplomats added that the European Union spent hundreds of millions of dollars in preparing poorer European countries to join the EU.

Yemen has repeatedly sought to join the six-country block with GCC leaders in December last year deciding to allow Sanaa to join the GCC ministerial councils in areas of health, education, labor and social affairs. Yemen will also be allowed to participate in the Gulf football cup as part of its gradual integration into the GCC.

Yemen now says it has a new initiative for the GCC leaders and hopes to secure membership of the economic groups and other GCC institutions.

Yemen believes it deserves to join on account of its many recent achievements including its World Bank backed economic reforms.

Referring to Prince Sultan’s forthcoming visit to Yemen, Ambassador Al-Ahwal said that the crown prince will also co-preside over the meeting of the Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council.

“The council will discuss in detail various topics concerning bilateral cooperation as well as steps being taken to fight terrorists and smugglers in addition to issues of security,” he said.

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