UAE president says GCC summit in Muscat crucial

Posted in Broader Middle East | 23-Dec-08 | Source: Gulf in the Media

Kuwait News Agency

UAE president Sheikh Khalifa Al Nehayyan indicated in an interview with Al Hayat newspaper, due to appear in its Tuesday issue, that recent momentuous developments, regionally and internationally, are bound to have their effect on the upcoming GCC summit scheduled to take place in Muscat on Dec. 29-30.

On the notion of a Gulf security pact of which Iran would be a member, he affirmed that all nations involved in the pact should first have a shared view of the nature and substance of security in the Gulf region, in as much as that would be what everyone sought.

He came out strong against a US-Iran military confrontation over Iran's nuclear issue, opting to emphasize that the UAE believed in the peaceful resoution of that problem.

As for his country's demand that its three Gulf islands be returned by Iran, he said that contentious issue should not stand in the way of having productive relations with Iran.

Whereas he stressed UAE's call for a denuclearized Middle East, he nontheless made it clear that his nation's nuclear program was geared for peaceful purposes only.

"We are statisfied with all the steps we've taken in that program, particularly our having signed a number of agreements with countries that boast advanced nuclear programs for peaceful ends," he said.

In general terms, he noted that his country's armament program rested on providing it with defensive capabilities, nothing more.

He expressed hope that recent moves in the UN security council toward revitalizing the Mideast peace process would be met with success, especially that a new US administration has appeared on the horizon, upon which high hopes have been set that it would impel the process with a modicum of determination.

Addressing the international ripples of the global financial crisis, Sheikh Khalifa said the UAE, though moderately affected by it, has been able to weather it with great aplomb because its economy has a solid monetary foundation.

Regarding the price of oil, he estimated that uncertainties in that industry, including the fluctuating price of oil, would not last long and that increasing demand for oil was bound to return with the comeback in the world economy to its normal trend, and this should happen in the near future.

Other topics Sheikh Khalifa touched on in the interview with the newspaper's editor in chief Ghassan Sherbal were the increasing imbalance in the population make-up in the UAE and the improving political situation in Iraq and in Lebanon.