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UAE attends GCC summit in Muscat

posted on 03/01/2002: 602 views

At the GCC 22nd summit held in Muscat on 31 December, GCC leaders endorsed a plan to move the GCC into a unified economic bloc, replacing the 1981 unified economic agreement. His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, headed the UAE delegation in Muscat. The summit speeded up plans for a GCC customs union, moving the date from January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2003 for reducing the unified customs tariffs on goods imported from outside the GCC to 5 per cent. The summit also committed the GCC to monetary union by January 2010, aiming at a unified GCC currency.

Outside the economic arena, the summit set up a supreme joint defence council, which will oversee the implementation of a joint defence pact agreed upon in Bahrain last year that commits GCC nations to defend any member state against external threats. Members of the council will include both chiefs of staff and technical military experts. The summit also highlighted the role of Yemen in the Arab peninsula, and the GCC granted Yemen membership to the councils of GCC ministers of health and labour and social affairs. The GCC will incorporate Yemen in other joint GCC activities including economic co-operation at a later date.

The summit also welcomed the positive developments taking place in Afghanistan and the formation of Hamid Karzai's government and expressed the readiness of the GCC governments to co-operate with the new government in the interest of the Afghani people. The meeting condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 and expressed concern over the escalation of tension between India and Pakistan calling upon both countries to exercise the greatest self-control over the current crisis.


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