GCC rules out expansion to include Iraq

Posted in Broader Middle East | 15-Dec-08 | Source: Gulf in the Media

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
The GCC is not ready to expand to include Iraq, Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa declared yesterday. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates yesterday suggested the war-torn country should be included in such organisations to bolster its rehabilitation and help counter Iran's influence.

But Shaikh Khalid said the GCC would be unable to do so while the coalition was still in the process of finalising its structures and institutions.

"There are certain agreements that have to be enforced," he said.

"When the GCC was established we did not restrict its membership to any countries - it is not an exclusive club.

"Once the GCC is a complete unit we will allow any of our brothers to come and join."

Shaikh Khalid was speaking during a live television debate on the Arabic news channel Al Arabiya, held yesterday on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue.

Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Dr Barham Saleh, British Conservative Party shadow foreign secretary William Hague, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Mark Kimmitt and International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) senior fellow for Gulf security Dr Mamoun Fandy were panelists. Dozens of delegates and media attended the 90-minute programme, entitled 'The Future of Regional Security: Reflections from the Manama Dialogue'.