Qatar: Gulf faces 'serious threats'

Iranian leader offers co-operation with Gulf leaders wary of Tehran's nuclear plans.

    Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar said the Gulf is facing "serious threats" [AL JAZEERA]

    'Escalating tension'
     
    Sheikh Hamad said: "Security and development are two faces of the same coin.

    "We want all parties of the crisis in the region, and they are many, to understand the reasons, including Iran's nuclear programme, the military build-up in the Gulf and the situation Iraq and its threat to the Arab World, and the escalating tension in Pakistan.
     
    "[And] continuous crises resulting from denying Palestinian people their rights."
     
    The GCC, which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has called for dialogue to resolve the row.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, offered a security pact with the Gulf Arab leaders, saying: "We want peace and security ... based on justice and without foreign intervention.
     
    'Reversed priorities'
     
    Warning any security problem in one Gulf state would affect all the others, he said: "We are proposing the conclusion of a security agreement."
     
    He also said he wanted to create an economic co-operation bloc for Gulf states and offered to share Iranian expertise in a range of areas including "energy and the new technologies".
     
    Abdullah al Shayeji, professor at Kuwait university, told Al Jazeera: "I think the Iranian president has his priorites reversed here in the GCC.
     

    Mahmoud Ahmandinejad is the first Iranian
    president to attend the GCC summit [AFP]


    "He should have allayed our fears, talked about transparency, the Iranian nuclear programme and discussing it with these major leaders.
     
    "He fumbled the opportunity that was given to him," he said.
     
    Before the meeting, Abdulrahman al-Attiyah, the secretary-general of the GCC, urged all parties to shy away from "confrontation and escalation".
     
    Saad al-Ajmi, a Gulf political analyst, told Al Jazeera that Ahmadinejad's presence at the meeting "is in line with the strategy of the GCC countries always postulating and arguing for negotiation and peaceful settlements for all disputes".
     
    'Message of independence'
     
    Asked how the invitation to Ahmadinejad might be interpreted by the US, a traditional Gulf ally, al-Ajmi said it was both a message to the US and to Iran.
     
    "I don't think the United States is happy with the presence of Ahmadinejad at this summit but they [the GCC] are communicating a message of independence [to the US] on the one hand and communicating their own message of saying 'we really want to have a settlement for this [nuclear] problem'."
     
    "This latter message is sent to the Iranian president himself," he said.
     
    Last month, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Bahrain's crown prince, accused Tehran for the first time of seeking to acquire nuclear arms.
     
    The GCC countries have already announced plans to acquire their own civilian nuclear programme.
     
    A compromise GCC proposal for an internationally controlled consortium to provide Middle Eastern countries with enriched uranium has been greeted by Iran without enthusiasm.
     
    Leaders of the Gulf states are also expected to address economic problems as they face mounting pressure either to end their currencies' peg to a sliding dollar or to revalue

    SOURCE: Agencies


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