GCC foreign ministers discuss ways to enhance coordination, bolster Gulf unity

Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hold their 142nd session in Riyadh on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 31 March 2017

GCC foreign ministers discuss ways to enhance coordination, bolster Gulf unity

RIYADH: Foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in their ministerial council meeting on Thursday discussed key issues including the unity vision to further enhance coordination to bolster joint Gulf-wide action.
The 142nd session was held under the chairmanship of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, Bahraini foreign minister.
Al-Khalifa in his opening address underlined that the ministerial meeting aims at further enhancing ways to coordinate joint action, exchange views on important regional and international issues and ways to restore security and stability in the region.
Ahmed Al-Kaabi, a spokesman at the GCC General Secretariat, said the meeting was aimed at following implementation of the 37th GCC summit held in Bahrain in December and also seeks to further enhance ties between the Gulf countries and other countries worldwide.
He said the Bahraini minister in his address stressed the on strength and steadiness of the Gulf countries’ stand to face challenges regardless of their source and on continuous efforts in building their own abilities to boost safety at home.
The Gulf ministers attending the session leant their support for collective efforts that will ensure peace, security and stability in the region.
The foreign ministers also discussed reports submitted by the ministerial committees and the GCC secretariat. They also looked into reports about the Council’s strategic dialogues with influential international organizations, allies as well as the latest regional and international developments bolstering efforts in combating terrorism.
The foreign ministers, ahead of the session, participated in the launching ceremony of the Conference Center at the General Secretariat, which is named after the late Prince Saud Al-Faisal.
The ceremony was also attended by Prince Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the Board of Directors of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Prince Fahd Al-Faisal and GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani.
After unveiling the memorial plaque of the late Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s photograph during the ceremony, Al-Zayani delivered a speech in which he welcomed the participants in the ceremony and highlighted the efforts exerted by the late Prince in enhancing the GCC joint action since its establishment in May 1981.
He added that Prince Saud was knight of the diplomacy and attracted admiration of the leaders of the world, and expressed sincere thanks to the GCC foreign ministers for their noble initiative.
The ministers also spoke on the occasion highlighting the late prince’s achievements during his tenure of four decades as foreign minister.
The late Prince, whose name is listed in the record book as the world’s longest serving foreign minister, has left an outstanding example and legacy to diplomacy.
Spending four decades serving the Kingdom and the world with the utmost devotion and sincerity Prince Saud Al-Faisal was the key architect of Saudi and Gulf diplomacy.
Prince Turki Al-Faisal expressed his appreciation for the GCC foreign ministers on this initiative, recalling the noble qualities of humanity, attitudes and courage of Prince Saud Al-Faisal.
A documentary film entitled “The Knight of Diplomacy” was also shown on the occasion that highlighted various aspects, reviewed the journey of Prince Saud, and the most important achievements of his career.

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”