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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

UK FM, GCC ministers urge restoration of Iran nuclear accord

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The officials tapped into issues of common concern including the ongoing war in Yemen, the Middle East Peace Process, and defence investments.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] stressed the importance of the restoration of the 2015 nuclear accord.

This came following a UK meeting on Monday between the foreign ministers, where they highlighted the importance of strengthening Britain’s cooperation with the GCC in various fields.

The resumption of talks in Vienna to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] was on the agenda, with the diplomats stressing that talks are the “last opportunity” to revive the accord amid Iran’s “nuclear escalations”.

“Foreign Ministers urged Iran to seize the current diplomatic opportunity to restore the JCPOA now to avoid bringing the region and international community to a crisis point,” read a joint communiqué on the UK Government’s website.

The statement added that foreign ministers said the restoration of the nuclear deal “is the best avenue towards inclusive, and more lasting diplomatic efforts to ensure regional security in a Gulf region permanently free of nuclear weapons”.

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Furthermore, the foreign ministers condemned the proliferation of advanced ballistic missiles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS] “used by Iran and its proxies in hundreds of attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure”.

“They called on the new Iranian administration to play a positive regional role, abide by international norms, respect their neighbours’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refrain from supporting militant groups,” added the statement.

The diplomats also discussed the need for a political resolution to the ongoing war in Yemen while condemning the continuous attacks carried out by Houthi rebels.

The UK and the GCC agreed to continue to provide humanitarian support to the people of the war-torn country while protecting humanitarian workers.

In 2014, the Houthis overran all government institutions in Sanaa and gained control of the city, forcing the internationally-recognised government to flee to Aden. The Saudi-led coalition then launched a military intervention to push back the rebels in a bid to reinstate the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

However, years on, at least 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the past six years, among them 131,000 who died as a result of malnutrition, lack of healthcare and medicine.

On the Middle East Peace Process

The statement released by the British government added that the UK and GCC diplomats “reiterated their commitment to a two-state solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people” and “safeguards Israel’s security”.

The joint communique noted that the solution must be based “on 1967 lines with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a, fair settlement for refugees”.

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It added that the solution must be in line with the United Nations Security Council’s [UNSC] resolution 242 and 338. Passed in 1967, the resolution called on Israel to withdraw its forces from occupied territories during the six-day war.

Despite the objectives it claims to fulfill, the resolution further legitimises Israel’s presence, which was in itself already illegal by all international laws. The resolution also described Palestinians, living in their own land, as “refugees”.

Britain has yet to publicly apologise to Palestinians for the Balfour declaration, which supported the illegal occupation of Palestine by approving the establishment of a Jewish state.

“The Foreign Secretary reiterated her commitment to the Abraham Accords and to shared prosperity and security for Arabs and Israelis alike,” added the statement.

Last year, the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, under which they openly normalised with Israel.

Qatar has repeatedly ruled out normalising with Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine.

On Iraq

Diplomats at the meeting discussed the developments in Iraq and their “shared vision for stability and prosperity” as well as the prevention of the expansion of extremists in the country, including the Islamic State militant group.

The foreign ministers also condemned the assassination attempt of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, which took place in November this year.

This came amid clashes in Baghdad between government forces and those supporting Iran-backed political parties after the latter lost dozens of seats in parliament post a general election in October.

They [British and Gulf foreign ministers] noted the recent Parliamentary elections in Iraq, and agreed on the need for the formation of a government which reflects the election results to maintain political stability,” read the joint communique.

Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan remained a key topic of discussion, with foreign ministers expressing their concern over the humanitarian crisis in the country.

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“They underscored the importance of the Taliban meeting their commitments on counter-terrorism – and not allowing any terrorist organisation to train, organise or fundraise in Afghanistan, as well as the importance of preventing foreign fighters from entering the country,” read the British government’s statement.

The diplomats also welcomed the outcomes of the latest extraordinary ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] in Pakistan on Sunday.

During the event, members agreed to establish a trust fund for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as it grapples with multiple crises that only worsened with years of war and drought.

UK-GCC cooperation

Aside from regional issues, the UK and GCC expressed their commitment in further cooperating in “areas such as clean technology and digital infrastructure”.

“The Foreign Ministers highlighted their belief that this 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,” read the statement.

The UK and the GCC’s trade exceeded £30 billion in the year ending June 2021 as investment in each other’s economies amounted to “tens of billions of pounds”.

“The UK and GCC member states underlined their commitment to work together to identify bilateral opportunities for joint investment in infrastructure and clean technology in the developing world,” added the statement.

The ministers also expressed their support for the fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries [LDC5], which Qatar is hosting in January 2022.

Meanwhile, the UK and GCC  welcomed the defence cooperation that they both share, while reiterating their “commitment to address threats and safeguard security in the region, including through joint exercises”.

Commenting on climate change, which remains an issue of common concern on a global scale, the UK and GCC stressed the importance of committing to the agreements reach during the COP26 summit this year.

“The UK commended the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its leadership shown in the launch of the Middle East Green Initiative, and the GCC countries’ commitment to open and transparent collaboration in its implementation,” said the joint statement.


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