JEDDAH- Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense opened the first consultative meeting of the Joint Defense Council of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)’s Ministers of Defense.
The event was opened today(May 14th) in the presence of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, currently on a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Addressing the meeting, Crown Prince Salman welcomed the participants in the first joint meeting for GCC defense ministers with the U.S. Secretary of Defense to discuss viewpoints on ways of cooperation between the two parties in a way that serves the joint interests, achieves the aspirations of the parties’ leaders and peoples and contributes to enhancing the regional security and world peace.
“We are here today amid highly important circumstances and increasing threats to the region’s security and stability, a matter pushing us doomed to continue contacts and exchange viewpoints with our friends in order to coordinate the positions, policies and defense plans of our countries towards any development or emergency according to our group’s joint perspective”, he said.
“We are pleased today with the participation of His Excellency Chuck Hagel, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, whose country’s administration is tied with our countries by historical and strategic relations that contributed to the enhancement of the security of the Gulf and stability of the region, hoping that this cooperation continues to the satisfaction of our joint interests”, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz said.
A number of serious security challenges have emerged in our Arab region in the recent years, he added, citing the political crises battering some Arab countries, the race to obtain mass destruction weapons, the interference of some countries in the GCC internal affairs and the growing phenomenon of terrorism, necessitating doubling our efforts and coordinating positions to achieve the requirements of the security of the GCC countries and stability of the region.
He went on to say that “the security challenges, whether they are the result of internal crises or illegal designs from some countries in the region, will cast their repercussions, not only on the GCC countries but also on the regional and international security and peace, making the security of the Gulf and its countries a joint responsibility between the GCC countries and the world community, particularly the United States of America given the economic and security ties between the U.S. and the GCC member states as well as the constant commitment of the United States to keep the security and stability of the region”.
The tragic sufferings witnessed by the peoples in our region and the destruction of some countries’ institutions and structures will send their aftershocks in the region and negatively affect the world community, he said, citing the increasing terrorism as one of those repercussions. So, any hesitance and delay to deal decisively with the regional crises will have its impact on increasing the sufferings of peoples and destructing some countries.
He added that decisive and courageous positions are always the points from which history takes the right way and nations salvaged.
The new security developments in our region require forging joint policies and positions that respond to the security challenges in all kinds, topped by upgrading the level of coordination and cooperation between defense sectors in the GCC countries and the friendly countries who are interested in the security and stability of our region, led by the United States of America whom we hope to take into its consideration the security and political increasing threats for the security of the Gulf and its countries, including the plans of some countries in the region to change the balance of regional powers to its favor and at the expense of other countries in the region, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud concluded.
In a speech at the meeting, Hagel thanked Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, for the generous hospitality accorded to him and his delegation, and the GCC defense ministers who are taking part in the meeting, wishing the meeting coming out with more constant coordination and cooperation among the GCC countries to work in a joint way to protect the security of this very important region.
Hagel said the security challenge facing the region requires a collective response to ward off any hostility or terrorist aggression and to achieve standing stability.
He pointed to the joint cooperation between the United States and the countries of the region, saying that the United States is still strongly committed to the joint cooperation in the field of defense with the GCC countries.
As regards, the Iranian nuclear program, he confirmed that negotiations would not mean, under any circumstances, bartering the regional security with negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. Our commitment to the security and stability of the Gulf is never shaken, he said, adding that the United States would always continue working to make sure that Iran would not possess a nuclear weapon and that Iran would live up to any future agreements in that regard.
In conclusion, he underscored the importance of a strong coordination between the United States and the GCC countries in the fields of joint defense.
For his part, the GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani delivered a speech in which he welcomed everyone and wished the meeting success and coming out with the desired results to strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation between the GCC’s member States and the United States of America.
He thanked and welcomed the U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the accompanying delegation, noting that their participation in this meeting confirms the United States’ interest to strengthen its relationship with the GCC, particularly in the military field and in light of the risks and challenges facing this vital region of the world.
Dr. Al-Zayani further said that this meeting was taking place in the context of the GCC-U.S. Dialogue Forum, and reflecting the common desire to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation that brought the GCC and the United States of America together for decades. He highlighted the GCC’s member States belief that the United States is considered an important strategic ally which plays a fundamental role in maintaining the region’s security and stability.
The GCC Secretary General made clear that the Iranian nuclear program represents the most worrying challenges and concerns facing the GCC’s member countries and the region in general.
He further said that “GCC member States have welcomed the interim agreement that has been reached between Group 5 +1 and Iran on November 24, 2013, as an important step to put an end to the Iranian endeavor heading towards the military use of nuclear energy, and therefore it is important that the Iranian leadership shall be serious about fulfilling its international obligations in this regard, so as to enhance the confidence of the international community and dispel concerns about its nuclear program,”
Then, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense of Kuwait, Lt. General Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah delivered a speech in which he expressed thanks to the King, Government and People of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their warm welcome, generous hospitality and a good stay accorded to the delegates as well as the good organization made for this meeting.
He stressed that the meeting of GCC defense ministers and the U.S. Secretary of Defense will focus on the security situation of the region and that of GCC member countries.
After that, the participants in the meeting entered a closed session, followed by a short break. Then the ministers held a closing session during which they discussed the aspects that would promote trust and partnership between the GCC countries and the United States of America to achieve security and stability in the Arabian Gulf region.
Following the closing session, Dr. Al-Zayani described the meeting “of the friends” as constructive and fruitful during which the mutual wish between the two sides to enhance cooperation relations and strategic partnership has been confirmed.
He told reporters that the two sides discussed important military affairs which would consolidate defense cooperation between them. “We believe that the talks held would lead to achieving the joint goals between the two sides and eventually to achieving the security and stability in this vital region in addition to issues of mutual concern as well as tackling the challenges and threats facing the region which might jeopardize its security and stability.
He signaled to the worry of the participants in the meeting from the negative repercussion of the recent developments on the security and stability of the region, noting that the two sides should focus on coordination of their efforts to achieve more joint cooperation to preserve the security and stability of the region.
He drew the attention to the confirmation of the U.S. Secretary of defense during the meeting of the U.S. commitment to safeguarding the security and stability of the region and protecting the world’s vital interests in it, a statement that sent the index of the meeting to the highest degrees of success.
Then, the Crown Prince held a luncheon in honor of GCC Defense Ministers and US Defense Secretary.
The luncheon is attended by Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Defense Minister; Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of the State, Member of the Cabinet, President of the Crown Prince’s Court and Advisor to the Crown Prince, and members of the delegations.
Following the luncheon, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, Bids Farewell to GCC Defense Ministers, US Defense Secretary.-SPA