​The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States held here today their 142ne session in Riyadh under chairmanship of Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and with participation of GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani.

At the outset of the meeting, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Chairman of the GCC current session, delivered a speech in which he stressed importance of discussing ways of developing relations among the GCC states and the friendly states and regional groups in addition to mechanisms of coordinating stances and exchanging views regarding the regional issues.

He confirmed that GCC joint firm stances in facing the challenges and threats surrounding the GCC region and enhancing the security and defense strategies reflect joint fate and higher interests as well as solidarity among the GCC states.

Then, the GCC foreign ministers discussed what have been implemented with regard of the GCC Supreme Council's resolutions, including following up implementation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's vision for enhancing the GCC joint action and a number of issues and integrated projects related to the GCC joint action.

The ministers also discussed reports submitted by the ministerial committees and the Secretariat General in addition to relevant issues of relations among the GCC states and a number of global blocs within context of strategic dialogues and partnerships. They also discussed the latest regional and international developments.

The GCC Ministerial Council issued a press statement as follows:

The Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member State held its 142nd session on Thursday, Rajab 2, 1438 corresponding to March 30, 2017 at the headquarters of the General Secretariat under the chairmanship of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain with participation of the GCC Foreign Ministers Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Ministerial Council reviewed the issues on its agenda related to the GCC joint action and reviewed the progress of implementing the decisions of the GCC Supreme Council and the vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on enhancing the GCC joint action as well as consultations on implementation of the Council's decisions to continue efforts to move from the phase of cooperation to the phase of union.

The Council decided to adopt the general framework and regulations and rules for honoring the competencies in the GCC civil service sectors. The council was briefed on the reports of the Secretariat General regarding the GCC railway project, strategic urban planning, free trade negotiations and cooperation and strategic partnership with countries and international economic groups.

The Ministerial Council reviewed the most important developments of these issues, as follows:

The GCC Ministerial Council welcomed the outcomes of the 28th Arab Summit held in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 29 March 2017 and its constructive resolutions that serve the Arab issues and contribute to the achievement of the objectives and aspirations of the Arab States.

The Ministerial Council reiterated its concern over the continued abduction of a number of Qatari citizens in Iraq, calling upon the Iraqi government to assume its responsibility to ensure the safety of the kidnapped citizens and release them.

Combating Terrorism:

1. The Ministerial Council affirmed the GCC constant stances and resolutions against terrorism and extremism. The council reviewed the developments in this regard. It also confirmed a continuation of the GCC support regarding the international coalition to fight the terrorist organization (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, stressing the need to protect civilians and return of the displaced people to their cities and villages. The council welcomed outcomes of the international conference to promote efforts of the Islamic and friendly countries against ISIS terrorist organization held in Riyadh on January 15, 2017. The council considered this conference as a commitment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to support all international efforts to combat terrorism.

2. The Ministerial Council hailed an award received by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of the Interior, from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the distinguished intelligence work in the field of combating terrorism, which is an international recognition of the Kingdom's outstanding work in the fight against terrorism.

3. The Ministerial Council lauded the efforts exerted by the security services in the Kingdom of Bahrain and its high efficiency in maintaining the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and its territorial integrity, praising its efforts to foil smuggling of a number of wanted fugitives in terrorist cases. The council supported all efforts taken by Bahrain in maintaining its security and stability.

4. The Ministerial Council condemned the terrorist attack on the guest house of Kandahar Governor which resulted in the martyrdom of the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Afghanistan and five diplomats during a humanitarian mission within the assistance program provided by the United Arab Emirates in Afghanistan.

5. The Ministerial Council lauded the opening of the NATO Regional Center for the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative countries in Kuwait to enhance aspects of joint coordination and cooperation in the security fields.

6. The Ministerial Council welcomed the statement issued by the US Department of State, which included placing of some persons belonging to the so-called Saraya Al-Ashtar on the list of global terrorists, stressing that this position reflects the determination of the United States of America to address all forms of terrorism at the regional and international levels. The council stressed that this stance represents a tangible support for the efforts of the Kingdom of Bahrain to promote security and peace in Bahrain.

7. The Ministerial Council expressed its deep condemnation of the statement made by the representative of the Swiss Confederation before the United Nations Human Rights Council in its 34th session in Geneva on human rights in Bahrain. The council expressed its categorical rejection of the allegations in the statement which ignores the efforts exerted by Bahrain in protecting and enhancing human rights. The council expressed hope that the Swiss government is to review its position and take information on human rights from the reliable sources. The council stressed that these rejected positions do not help to develop and strengthen the common relations between the GCC States and the Swiss Union.

The situation in the Palestinian territories and developments of the Arab-Israeli conflict:

8. The Ministerial Council stressed the GCC firm and permanent stances and resolutions towards the Palestinian Cause, stressing that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace can be achieved only with the full withdrawal of Israel from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and with establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the international relevant resolutions.

9. The Ministerial Council condemned the actions taken by the Israeli occupation authorities in Al-Quds to change its identity. The Council welcomed the security council resolution no. 2334 which denounced the Israeli settlement. The council strongly condemned the decision of the Israeli Parliament to allow settlement gatherings on the Palestinian private lands, which is a flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the international law, calling for pressure on the Israeli government to stop its illegal practices in the Palestinian occupied territories.

10. The Ministerial Council welcomed the outcomes of the Peace Conference held in Paris on January 15, 2017, to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and its statement which calls to achieve a lasting and just peace in the region and calls upon the international community to carry out its responsibilities.

Iranian occupation of the three islands belonging to the United Arab Emirates:

11. The Ministerial Council confirmed the GCC permanent positions and resolutions which were confirmed by all previous statements rejecting Iranian continued occupation of the three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa of the United Arab Emirates. The council stressed its support of the UAE sovereign right over its three islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa and the territorial water, airspace, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of the three islands as an integral part of the territory of the United Arab Emirates. The council considered that any decisions, practices or acts carried out by Iran on the three islands are null and void as well as do not change any historical and legal facts.

The council calls upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to the UAE's efforts to resolve the issue through direct negotiations or go to the International Court of Justice.

12. The Ministerial Council stressed the GCC stances and resolutions regarding the GCC-Iranian relations and confirmed the necessity of fully abiding by the basic principles based on the Charter of the United Nations, the international law, the principles of good neighborliness, respecting the sovereignty of States, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful settlement of disputes, and rejection of sectarianism. The council expressed its full rejection of the continuation of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the GCC States and the region.

13. The Ministerial Council expressed its condemnation of the Iranian regime's irresponsible provocative statements and acts of aggression against the Kingdom of Bahrain, calling upon the Iranian regime to stop the policies that feed sectarian conflicts.

14. The Ministerial Council confirmed the GCC stances and decisions in this regard that Iran abides by the agreement reached with the group of countries (5 + 1) in July 2015, on its nuclear program and to implement the Security Council resolution 2231 (July 2015) on the nuclear agreement.

15. The Ministerial Council stressed the GCC positions and resolutions on the Syrian crisis and followed up the results of the meetings of the Astana Conference between the Syrian opposition delegations and the regime in January and February, 2017 and the Geneva Conference on 23, February, 2017, stressing the need to stabilize the cease-fire and establish an effective and practical monitoring mechanism to achieve a political solution in accordance with the Geneva Declaration 1 (June 2012).

16. The Ministerial Council welcomed the US President Donald Trump's commitment to sign an executive decision to develop a plan for the establishment of safe regions in Syria, hoping that this will contribute to maintaining the safety of civilians in accordance with the relevant international resolutions.

17. The Ministerial Council welcomed the final communiqué issued by the 9th Coordination Meeting of the Group of Senior Donors to Support the Humanitarian Situation in Syria on 16, January, 2017 in the State of Kuwait.

18. The Ministerial Council confirmed the GCC firm stances and decisions on the crisis in Yemen and welcomed the issuance of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2342 under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations which stressed the national, regional and international key points to reach a political solution to the crisis.

The Ministerial Council lauded the meeting of the Quartet with the participation of the Sultanate of Oman on Yemen held in Bonn on 16, February, 2017, calling upon the Houthi and Saleh group to commit to peace and resume consultations under the auspices of the United Nations in accordance with the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism, outputs of the comprehensive national dialogue conference, the Security Council resolution no. 2216, and the framework presented by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General which includes security and political measures to end the crisis.

The Ministerial Council condemned Houthi and Saleh's forces for targeting of the population centers in Saudi Arabia and Yemen by ballistic missiles.

On Iraq :

19. The Ministerial Council reaffirmed the Permanent Council's positions and resolutions on Iraq and expressed its support for the Government of Iraq in taking measures to combat terrorism aimed at achieving security and stability in Iraq.

20. The Ministerial Council expressed its rejection of the statements made by Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki and the official spokesman of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on the fair judicial sentences that were committed against those convicted of terrorist cases in the Kingdom of Bahrain, stressing the rejection by the GCC States of any form of interference in their internal affairs.

21. The Ministerial Council reaffirmed its support for Security Council resolution No. (2013/2107), which unanimously decided to refer the file of prisoners of war, missing persons, Kuwaiti property and the National Archives to the United Nations Mission to Monitor this issue. The Council also regrets that no progress has been made in any. The Council calls upon the Iraqi Government and the United Nations represented by UNAMI to make every effort to reach a solution to this humanitarian and other related issues.

On Libya:

22. The Ministerial Council affirmed the positions and decisions of the GCC on the Libyan crisis, stressing the need to implement the Al-Sukhairat agreement signed between the Libyan parties in December 2015 as a framework for ending the Libyan crisis. The Council reiterated the keenness of the GCC States on the security, stability and unity of the Libyan territories.

On Lebanon:

23. The Ministerial Council affirmed the positions and resolutions of GCC on Lebanon and welcomed the visit made by President Michel Aoun to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar in January 2017. It stressed the importance of relations between the GCC States and Lebanon at all levels, In order to achieve security and stability and prosperity.

On Somalia:

24. The Ministerial Council congratulated the Republic of Somalia on the completion of the electoral process and the emphasis on support in the efforts to rebuild and meet the economic and development challenges and fight terrorism.