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Middle East

GCC backs Saudi Arabia rejection of UN seat

Group's head praises Saudi stance, while Qatar backs neighbour's reasons for turning down place on Security Council.

Last Modified: 20 Oct 2013 03:34
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The kingdom's presence was said to be crucial in representing the Arab world [EPA]

The Gulf Co-operation Council has backed Saudi Arabia's rejection of its seat on the UN Security Council, praising the Gulf nation's call for reform.

In a statement released on Saturday, the GCC Secretary General, Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, "underlined the importance of Saudi Arabia's call for the realisation of a fundamental reform of the Security Council's system," reported Qatar's state news agency.

In addition, the news agency also reported the Qatari government's support of Saudi Arabia's stance.

"The state of Qatar agrees with the reasons outlined by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to turn down a non-permanent seat on the United Nationsl Security council," QNA reported, quoting an official source from the Foreign Ministry.

Breaking ranks

Meanwhile, other Arab nations appealed to Saudi Arabia to reverse its unprecedented decision to reject the seat.

Arab UN ambassadors made the appeal on Saturday after an emergency meeting following Friday's surprise announcement by the kingdom to decline the seat in a display of anger over the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria. 

Saudi Arabia's leaders should "maintain their membership in the Security Council and continue their brave role in defending our issues specifically at the rostrum of the Security Council," said a statement released by Arab states at the UN. 

It added however that it was crucial for Saudi Arabia to represent the Arab and Muslim world on the council "at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region."

Many diplomats and analysts have said the Saudi protest was a message to the United States that it wanted a tougher stance on Syria and was angry that Washington had opened contacts with Iran.

The kingdom has been angered by the increasing rapport between Washington and Iran, Saudi Arabia's old regional foe, which has taken root since President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 

The conservative Muslim kingdom has traditionally avoided big political statements, preferring to wield its influence as world's top oil exporter, birthplace of Islam and chief Arab ally of the US behind closed doors.

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