GCC Foreign Ministers hold meeting to discuss regional and international developments

The UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg was also present at the meeting. For the first time in more than a decade, almost all of Yemen’s feuding leaders came together in one building in Riyadh in a bid to settle their disputes.


RIYADH: Foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council states held their 151st session on Thursday in Riyadh to discuss a number of developments.

The session was chaired by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the chairman of the current session of the ministerial council, with the participation of GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf.

Al-Hajraf said the meeting would discuss a number of reports on developments in implementing the decisions of the Supreme Council issued by the 42nd summit in Riyadh.

He also said the ministers would discuss agreements and reports submitted by the ministerial and technical committees and the General Secretariat, as well as dialogues and strategic relations between the GCC and international countries and blocs, and the latest regional and international developments.

During the meeting, the council was briefed on committees’ work within the framework of the cooperation council and the general secretariat to implement the decisions of the 42nd GCC Supreme Council session and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman’s vision regarding strengthening joint Gulf action in all fields. The ministerial council reviewed the developments of joint Gulf action, and latest regional and international political issues. It also discussed the fight against terrorism. The UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg was also present at the meeting. For the first time in more than a decade, almost all of Yemen’s feuding leaders came together in one building in Riyadh in a bid to settle their disputes.

The Gulf Cooperation Council last month invited all Yemeni political, tribal and religious leaders, journalists, activists, economists and the heads of nongovernmental organizations to join unprecedented talks in the Saudi capital under its aegis to examine and propose solutions to the country’s problems.

With the exception of the Iran-backed Houthis, who turned down the invitation, hundreds of people engaged in the talks to draw up a road map for bringing peace and stability to war-torn Yemen.

During the discussions, members of the General People’s Congress — the party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh — exchanged views for hours with supporters of the Islamist Islah party, which led the Arab Spring-inspired protests against Saleh in 2011.

The leaders of the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council discussed ideas with those they fought in Aden in 2018 and 2019.

Sarhan Al-Minaikher, the GCC ambassador to Yemen, said that almost 1,000 people participated in the Yemeni-Yemeni consultations, and that the participants were left in closed rooms to privately, transparently and directly exchange views without any interference from the Gulf bloc or any other country.

The most important outcome of the consultations was the formation of the Presidential Leadership Council, a body of eight people, led by Rashad Al-Alimi and comprising Yemeni leaders representing different parties, including separatists and Saleh’s supporters.

On Thursday, former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi passed powers to the new council and empowered it to run the country and negotiate with the Houthis.

During the closing ceremony, the participants came out with recommendations that called upon the new presidential body to start engaging in talks with the Houthis to end the war, supported boosting and reforming state bodies, and allowed them to function in Yemen. The participants also called for fighting terrorism, opening roads between Yemeni cities that were closed during the war and seeking an international donor conference for mobilizing funds to the country. The Riyadh consultations are the latest in a string of initiatives and peace ideas proposed by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf bloc and the UN to bring an end to the violence.The current fighting in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Houthis, with support from Saleh and Iran, seized control of Sanaa and put Hadi under house arrest.

In February 2015, Hadi managed to escape from Sanaa to the southern city of Aden where he regrouped his forces and vowed to challenge the Houthis. The UN and many local organizations say that tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the war that has pushed most of the country’s 30 million people to the brink of famine. Before the Houthi capture of Sanaa, the GCC mediated peace initiatives to end the violence in Yemen. He briefed the council on the latest developments in his efforts towards achieving security and stability in Yemen. He also praised the success of the Yemeni-Yemeni consultations to end the Yemeni crisis and restore security and safety throughout Yemen.

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