GCC announces steps to bolster security

Six-member bloc agrees to work towards creating joint naval defence force and common anti-terror police force.

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    Gulf Arab leaders have agreed to work towards the creation of a joint naval defence force and a common counterterror police force to rein in regional foe Iran and armed groups.

    At Tuesday's meeting in the Qatari capital, the heads of states from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed to put aside differences and work towards a Gulf Union.

    Qatar joined its neighbours in supporting Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and the Qatari foreign minister told Al Jazeera that his country had agreed to work within the GCC to help Egypt become a strong and stable country.

    In their final statement, leaders of the GCC announced their "full support to Egypt" as well as for Sisi's political programme.

    The annual meeting comes after an eight-month diplomatic spat in the bloc which pitted Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain against Qatar over its alleged support for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

    Diplomatic spat

    The Brotherhood, from which toppled Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi hailed, has been labelled a "terrorist organisation" by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The other two GCC members, Kuwait and Oman, tried to stay neutral.

    The Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said at the summit's opening ceremony that the presence of different views among the Gulf States was "natural", but that it should not develop into a stand-off.

    A reconciliation meeting attended by the GCC foreign ministers three weeks ago in the Saudi capital Riyadh appears to have eased tensions and paved the way for the one-day summit.

    "The fact that the meeting is taking place is in itself a success. For the Gulf leaders to come to Qatar after all that happened is a big event," Abdul Aziz Aluwaisheg, assistant secretary-general of the GCC, told Al Jazeera.

    The bloc announced the creation of a joint police force, known as GCC-POL, and aims to improve cooperation against drug trafficking, money laundering and cyber-crime.

    Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani who inaugurated the summit said the "fight against terrorism" remained the bloc’s main priority.

    "We have no choice but to face terrorism," he said in his opening statement. "Terrorism prevention is better than trying to cure it after it expands."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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