GCC leaders to meet next week amid economic crisis

10:36, December 13, 2009      

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Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are set to convene in Kuwait City next week amid economic crisis that left one of its prominent hubs in deep debt.

The leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues at the upcoming 30th GCC summit that will kick off on Monday, with Dubai debt crisis likely topping the agenda.

The emirate, once dubbed "the Singapore of the Middle East," announced on Nov. 25 that it had to request to halt payment of its59-billion-dollar debt for at least six months, raising fears of the impacts of the halt on other Gulf countries.

Experts expected a tangible drop in profits of several banks in the region due to high provisions against exposure to Dubai debt, warning that a severe crisis is likely to hit the Gulf financial system.

In response, the summit will review studies prepared by the consultative body of the GCC Supreme Council on the international financial crisis and its potential impacts on the Gulf states as well as a number of recommendations, which aimed to mitigate the negative repercussions of the global meltdown.

On Thursday, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan said GCC states have to face the financial crisis which the world is going through.

The GCC will discuss means of containing the potential impacts of the crisis on the gulf countries and crystallizing a unified Gulf stance in the regional and international forums aiming to address the issue, the president said in a press statement.

The situation in Yemen will also figure high at the summit in light of the latest developments at Saudi-Yemeni border.

The Iranian file, a frequent item on the agenda of GCC summit, will be also present before the leaders.

The GCC summit is expected to reiterate their call on the country to comply with international principles in regard to its nuclear issue to prevent the occurrence of any negative consequence, which might affect its neighboring GCC countries.

Besides, the GCC summit will also tackle the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and the progress of the stalled peace process in the Middle East, affirming the body's standing in support of the Palestinian rights.

The EU statement calling for Jerusalem to serve as a capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state is expected to be addressed in the summit.

Meanwhile, developments in Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon and Sudan are also expected to be on the agenda.

Turning to the GCC inter-cooperation, the summit will address plans aiming eventually at the establishment of a Gulf central bank, and set a timetable for the monetary union among four out of six members, as the UAE and Oman opted out of the currency union.

The summit is also expected to inaugurate the first phase of Gulf electricity grid that will cover Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The second phases will cover the UAE and Oman, as the third phase will see the linking of the two networks.

Progress of other cooperation plans, including the common Gulf market and railway network project, will also be discussed, along with joint efforts to combat A/H1N1 flu and upgrade education and health sectors in the GCC member states.

Founded in 1981, the GCC groups the six Gulf Arab countries, namely Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman, which together hold around 40 percent of the world's oil reserves and pump around 16 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Source: Xinhua
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