“Iran is escalating tension in the region and the world at large,” said Prince Saud Al-Faisal, minister of foreign affairs, in a speech read out by Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer, deputy minister for multilateral relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prince Saud said that Tehran had “refused to comply” with the provisions of the International Energy Agency, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and the world community. He expressed concerns about “the growing tension and instability in the region and its implications.” He, however, assured the Kingdom’s support to the efforts to keep Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons.
Prince Saud lamented Israel’s constant refusal to join the NPT and expressed concerns on Tel Aviv’s nuclear programs. “This has been a major stumbling block in achieving the goal of a peaceful Middle East with greater stability and security,” said the prince while referring to the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations currently on the “dead end.”
The remarks by Prince Saud came as another blow to the Iranian policy after Europe ramped up pressure on Tehran following attacks on the British Embassy in Tehran last week.
Referring to the unrest in the region, Prince Saud said that the Middle East region was facing hard times in the forms of political and economic problems. He called on the intellectuals and the participants of the conference to find out ways and means to deal with the challenges facing the Gulf and, more intensely, facing the GCC’s neighboring nations. “The Arab region is witnessing profound changes never seen before,” said Prince Saud, adding the need to ensure peace and stability without losing sight of the legitimate demands of the people.
This is in addition to the continuing effects of the global economic crisis that still cast a shadow over many countries and people, said Prince Saud in his inaugural speech. “Given the GCC’s strategic location and its possession of large reserves of oil and gas, the challenges and threats facing the Gulf region undoubtedly and indirectly threaten the security and stability of the region and the world,” he warned.
Speaking on the role of GCC states in changing the international landscape, Anwar Mohammad Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, expressed his concerns on the Iranian nuclear program. He, however, said that the GCC had emerged as a strong bloc with unified approach and with capacity to solve issues confronting the region. “This is evident from our support to Bahrain, where troops from the GCC Peninsula Shield were sent to protect vital installations,” added Gargash.
“The Gulf states have had several initiatives to forge even closer ties,” said Saad Al-Ammar, GCC’s assistant secretary-general for political affairs. He singled out projects like the GCC railway plan, unified power grid project and a project to set up a GCC human rights body.
Abdulkarim Al-Dekhayel, IDS director general, said the GCC as a bloc had emerged as a major regional and international player, which had taken several initiatives to promote peace and security in the region.
“Perhaps the most important initiative in recent days is the GCC-brokered deal to end the crisis Yemen, which was signed in Riyadh on Nov. 23,” said Al-Dekhayel, adding that the GCC is engaged in dialogues with several countries including China, Russia, India, and Turkey to ensure peace and to promote relations on all fronts.
“The GCC as a bloc has attracted an investment of $300 billion last year compared to $30 billion in 2003,” said Abdulaziz Sager, GRC chairman and founder, adding that the Gulf is one of the most important energy sources in the world, with production ranging up to 15 million barrels of oil per day. He said that the Gulf countries needed international partnerships based on the foundations of equality and mutual respect to ensure its own security and to contribute to the efforts to restore peace worldwide.

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