Ministers set to discuss proposed Gulf Union

Arab News – 05 August, 2012

The historic move to transform the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into a Gulf Union inched closer yesterday with the announcement of the plan to discuss the final proposal by GCC foreign ministers within a few weeks from now.
Abdullateef Al-Zayani, GCC secretary-general, said: “The study to form the Gulf Union, which has been completed by the GCC panel entrusted with the task to examine the plan for Gulf Union, will be reviewed by the alliance foreign ministers soon.”
Al-Zayani said the commission tasked with studying the initiative had completed its work and submitted it to the council of foreign ministers.
The GCC foreign ministers will have two meetings soon, one possibly next week before the Islamic summit and another next month, he said. “But, the initiative to move to a Gulf Union will be discussed by the GCC foreign ministers when they convene next month.” Al-Zayani said the committee tasked with studying the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has concluded all its deliberations.
A lot of interesting points have come up while a lot of differences have been resolved with a view to finally see the creation of a strong Gulf Union, he added.
Al-Zayani said the GCC committee in a separate meeting discussed its final report before submitting it to the Supreme Council.
King Abdullah called on fellow GCC states Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE to move from the phase of cooperation to a Gulf union within a single entity.
The six member states of the Council founded in 1981 in Abu Dhabi have reportedly agreed on the move, but had different views on the pace of implementation.
An ad hoc commission made up of 12 members — two from each member country — was set up to look into ways to implement the proposal.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were openly enthusiastic about it, while other members said more time was needed to achieve the transition.
In May, enthusiasm was so high in Manama and Riyadh that the idea of a first track between them would be launched, possibly with Doha being part of it, while the other capitals would join at a later stage. However, the GCC leaders at their annual advisory summit in Riyadh said more time was needed and that the initiative would be taken by the council of foreign ministers. Bahraini officials have repeatedly said that they were optimistic about the announcement of the union, at least on its first track, before or at the rotating GCC summit to be held in Manama in December.

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