Saudi initiative to boost GCC ties

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Three top Saudi officials visited Doha and Manama on Wednesday and held talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa as part of efforts to strengthen GCC ties and join forces to confront terrorism.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Intelligence chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif visited Doha before flying to Manama in a major move to mend GCC fences.

Sheikh Tamim and the Saudi officials discussed ways of strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation among the GCC member countries, the Saudi Press Agency said, quoting a report issued by its Qatari counterpart. The report, however, emphasized that the two sides discussed the latest regional and international developments.

Following his meeting with the Saudi delegation, King Hamad highlighted Saudi Arabia’s pioneering role in strengthening the GCC for the benefit of its peoples. He also noted Riyadh’s stances in support of just Arab and Islamic causes.

“King Hamad and Prince Saud discussed the latest developments in the Arab region while stressing the importance of preserving its security,” the Bahraini News Agency said. King Hamad underscored the deep-rooted relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The meetings come amid growing concern in the Gulf over an increasing threat from the Islamic State (IS), a splinter group of Al-Qaeda that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

Talks between Saudi officials and Qatari and Bahraini rulers come ahead of a scheduled meeting to be held between GCC foreign ministers on Saturday, which has been described as having “special importance” since it will discuss “a number of issues related to the path of GCC joint action.”

GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani has called for regional and international cooperation to contain the worsening security situation and explosive conflicts in the Middle East region.

“We have to confront extremism and terrorist organizations and their funders,” the GCC chief said while addressing a seminar in London.


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