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GCC-UK Foreign Ministers’ meeting convened to discuss key regional, international files

Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, including Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations; H.H. Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Arabia Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Sabah, Foreign Minister of Kuwait and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, Foreign Minister of Bahrain; Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, Foreign Minister of Oman; and Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, Secretary General of the GCC, met with the Rt. Hon Liz Truss MP, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, at Chevening on 20 December.

During their meeting, the Foreign Ministers agreed the UK-GCC relationship will be strengthened across all fields. The UK and the GCC already cooperate closely in a wide range of areas, including political dialogue, security, foreign policy, trade and investment, and development, and the Foreign Ministers committed to expanding the partnership in emerging areas such as clean technology, digital infrastructure, and cyber issues in efforts to strengthen security and generate business opportunities and jobs.

Officials also emphasized the importance of enhancing people-to-people links, noting their role in promoting understanding between peoples and driving innovation, business opportunities, and cultural and educational exchange. The Foreign Ministers highlighted their belief that the ambitious strategic partnership between the UK and GCC member states is essential in promoting peace, security, stability and economic growth in the Middle East region and beyond.

In trade and investment, the Foreign Ministers welcomed the completion of the United Kingdom-Gulf Cooperation Council Joint Trade and Investment Review in June 2021. This was an important milestone in the roadmap to the creation of freer trade between the UK and the GCC. They welcomed recent progress to boost bilateral trade and facilitate economic cooperation. All parties reaffirmed their commitment to working rapidly towards a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and noted the UK’s ongoing public consultation, which will conclude on 14 January 2022.

Concerning international investment, the Foreign Ministers agreed that scaling up high standard, transparent, and reliable investment in low- and middle-income countries is a key ingredient in promoting sustainable growth and fighting climate change. The UK and GCC member states underlined their commitment to identify bilateral opportunities for joint investment in infrastructure and clean technology in the developing world. The Ministers expressed their support for the fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in January 2022, in Qatar.

On foreign policy and regional security, the UK and GCC member states reiterated their keenness to continue their close cooperation on foreign policy and regional security. The Foreign Ministers shared a vision for stability and prosperity, preventing the expansion of violent extremists in the region and beyond. The Foreign Ministers discussed various topics including Yemen, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and the Middle East Peace Process.

In the defense realm, the Foreign Ministers welcomed the close cooperation between the UK and GCC member states on defense issues and agreed to continue building on existing links between their respective armed forces. The GCC member states and the UK reiterated their commitment to addressing threats and safeguarding security in the region, including through joint exercises. They called on all nations to respect the territorial integrity of others, uphold freedom of navigation at sea, and allow passage without hindrance.

On climate and the environment, the UK side recognized the commitment on climate change displayed by GCC member states and welcomed their contribution at COP26, including the announcements made to reach Net Zero. The Foreign Secretary congratulated the UAE on winning the right to host COP28, noting that these are important signals to the global community about the region’s intent to take action and protect the environment for future generations.

The officials concluded the meeting by expressing their interest in following up on the outcomes of the fruitful discussion in the coming period and extended their gratitude to the Rt. Hon Liz Truss MP for hosting the meeting.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation