GCC ministers still determined to end Yemen crisis
Source : Arab News,
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN,12/06/2011
RIYADH: Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will discuss ways and means on Tuesday to restore peace in neighboring Yemen in their first meeting after Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, was airlifted to Riyadh for treatment on June 3.
“The GCC ministerial meeting, to be held in Jeddah, will also discuss other major regional developments,” said Ahmed Al-Kaabi, a spokesman of the GCC General Secretariat.
The foreign ministers, in a renewed effort to mediate in Yemen, will hold talks on the fate of the GCC-brokered deal in their meeting at a time when all top Yemeni leaders are recovering in Saudi Arabia after they were severely wounded in a blast recently in Sanaa, said Al-Kaabi. On the health condition of Saleh, a Yemeni diplomatic source, said that the president, who had surgery at Riyadh Armed Forces Hospital recently, is “recovering steadily.” “We expect the president to transition from the current stage to a normal stage soon,” he added. He said: “President Saleh’s overall medical condition continues to improve in a satisfactory manner with no major complications reported.” But, an AFP report said Saturday that Saleh was in poor health condition and was suffering from breathing problems. “Saleh suffers problems in the lungs and respiration,” said the report, quoting an informed source in Riyadh.
Referring to the agenda of the GCC foreign ministers meeting, Al-Kaabi said that this ministerial session comes at a critical time, when several countries in the region are witnessing political uprisings. The meeting also comes a day after the third GCC-EU Economic Dialogue that concluded its deliberations within the framework of the implementation of a joint action program. The EU and the US have also been backing GCC efforts for smooth transfer of power in Yemen.
He said that the GCC foreign ministers would review the joint GCC mediation effort to put an end to the crisis in Yemen. To this end, the GCC spokesman noted that the Gulf states had been shifting to “an era of closer coordination in foreign affairs” especially now when the Arab political landscape is rapidly changing. On the deliberations of the GCC-EU economic dialogue, Al-Kaabi said that the dialogue concluded with an agreement on a joint action plan.
The two sides discussed various issues including developments in the EU countries, such as the sovereign debts’ question of Greece and impact of this crisis on the single European currency, said a statement released by the GCC General Secretariat. The GCC-EU talks also dealt with inter-investments, development aid, the GCC plan for integration of the financial markets and amendments of the EU regulations for coping with the global financial crisis.
It was not immediately known whether the subject of the pending GCC-EU free trade agreement came up for discussions. In fact, the EU’s delay in signing a free trade agreement after 20 years of negotiations has led to a decline in trade between the two blocs. On GCC-EU relations, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Uweishek, director general of the international economic relations at the GCC General Secretariat, said that there was a need to forge closer ties.
He expressed hopes and happiness, saying that the EU states, “have begun recovering from the economic crisis and are posted to realize growth in 2011.” As for the GCC countries, the situation is better and the GCC as a whole is forecasted to post an eight percent growth in 2011, he noted. Participants in the dialogue included GCC officials from the ministries of finance, monetary institutions, central banks and GCC General Secretariat, as well as a number of experts and senior officials from the EU and European Central Bank.