AFP: Leaders of the six Gulf Arab monarchies meet in Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday for their annual summit amid growing concern over Iran’s nuclear programme and Iraq. RIYADH, Dec 8, 2006 (AFP) – Leaders of the six Gulf Arab monarchies meet in Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday for their annual summit amid growing concern over Iran’s nuclear programme and Iraq.
“Repercussions over developments in Iran’s nuclear programme and over the dangerous security situation in Iraq on the six Gulf Cooperation Council members will be the focus of the summit,” GCC secretary general Abdelrahman Al-Attiya told AFP.
The GCC states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — “fear failure in international talks and contacts with Iran on its nuclear programme and the subsequent imposition of sanctions”, said a high-ranking GCC official.
“If sanctions are imposed (by the UN Security Council) on Iran, the GCC states will have to abide by them, which will annoy Iran,” added the official under cover of anonymity.
He attended an October meeting in Cairo between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and foreign ministers of the GCC, Egypt and Jordan.
Rice warned that “time was pressing on the international community” if it did not wish to lose credibility over Iran.
“The United States talks openly of the danger of Iranian military activity in the region, but our countries do not feel threatened by Tehran. Iranian officials assure us that their nuclear programme is peaceful,” said Attiya.
But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments Wednesday that Tehran is “one step away from the (nuclear) zenith” will not reassure GCC states.
“His remarks raise an important question,” the Saudi daily Al-Bilad said Thursday, expressing concern over the “possible fallout for the region’s smaller countries”.
An Arab diplomat in Riyadh told AFP the “Gulf states don’t want to be part of the international pressure group on Iran”.
These states have “no wish to adopt a hostile stance towards Iran, the main regional power”, he said. “They fear worsening Iran-US relations could lead to a military confrontation that would have negative repercussions on the Gulf states.”
In June, GCC foreign ministers said they feared a radioactive leak from Iran’s nuclear facilities would be catastrophic for the Gulf environment.
The GCC is also very concerned about Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, especially over the powerful Shiite militias there.
“We believe there is a plan to divide Iraq,” Attiya said, adding that “foreigners want to implement this plan to erase the Arab identity of Iraqis”.
He sought to play down growing worries about increased Shiite influence in GCC member states.
“The citizens of Gulf states, Sunni or Shiite, have the same rights and obligations,” he said.
All GCC heads of state will attend the summit, Attiya added. Their talks will focus on “developments in the Palestinian territories, the exceptional circumstances in Lebanon, and issues between member states”, he said.