Gulf states to boost links with Turkey

Posted in Broader Middle East | 01-Sep-08 | Source: Gulf in the Media

GCC leaders attend a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting.

Gulf rulers will sign an accord with Turkey aimed at boosting ties between the pro-Western Arab bloc and Ankara, the chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council said yesterday.

The "memorandum of understanding" to be inked in Jeddah tomorrow will provide for "cooperation in the economic, political and security domains," GCC Secretary-General Abdurrahman Al Attiyah said.

Attiyah said GCC foreign ministers are due to meet in Jeddah tomorrow and will hold talks with their Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan on the sidelines of the meeting. The MoU will pave the way for the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the GCC and Turkey that has been under negotiation since 2005, he said.

The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. GCC states have good relations with Turkey.

"Turkey has an important role in the region. It is a balanced and moderate role," Attiyah said. Attiyah said the GCC ministers will discuss Iran's recent decision to set up two new facilities on one of three Gulf islands disputed with the UAE. Tehran's establishment of a maritime rescue office and a ship registration office on Abu Musa island drew a formal protest from the UAE earlier this month.