The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, and the GCC Secretary General Jasem Albudaiwi met in New York on September 18, 2023, to celebrate the strategic importance of the historic ties among their countries. The Ministers underscored their shared commitment to build upon the achievements of previous ministerial meetings, including the most recent ministerial meeting in Riyadh on June 7, 2023, to strengthen consultation, coordination, and cooperation in all fields.
The Ministers welcomed diplomatic engagement by Saudi Arabia and other GCC states with Iran to pursue regional de-escalation and emphasized the importance of adherence to international law, including the UN Charter, by states of the region. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation and maritime security in the region and their determination to deter illegal actions at sea or elsewhere that might threaten shipping lanes, international trade, and oil installations in the GCC states. The Ministers underscored their support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and renewed their call for Iran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They once again called on Iran to cease its proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles and other dangerous weapons that pose a grave security threat to the region. The GCC and the United States reiterated their commitment to work together to deter and address threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity and other destabilizing activities.
The Ministers reiterated their support for the United Arab Emirates’ call to reach a peaceful solution to the dispute over the three islands, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa, through bilateral negotiations or the International Court of Justice, in accordance with the rules of international law including the UN Charter.
The Ministers underscored the importance of continued, unified support for UN-led peace efforts in Yemen following the April 2022 truce and ensuing period of de-escalation. They expressed their high appreciation for the efforts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UN and U.S. envoys to this end. The Ministers also emphasized their support for an inclusive, Yemeni-Yemeni political process under UN auspices that durably resolves the conflict. They welcomed the efforts that the Presidential Leadership Council has taken to promote peace and ease the suffering of Yemenis, stressing the need for the Houthis to seize this opportunity and engage positively with international efforts and peace initiatives aimed at bringing durable peace to Yemen and putting the country on the path to recovery. The Ministers affirmed the importance of continuing to address Yemen’s humanitarian, economic, and development needs. They called for the cessation of all restrictions and interference by the Houthis affecting the operations of humanitarian agencies on the ground. They expressed their commitment to help mobilize additional funds in support of the UN humanitarian response plan for Yemen. They also welcomed the UN’s completion in August of a complex operation to offload oil from the derelict Safer tanker off the coast of Yemen, averting an environmental, economic, and humanitarian threat to the region and the Red Sea. The Ministers commended Saudi Arabia’s sustained efforts to encourage Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue and provide economic and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including its announcement in August to provide $1.2 billion for government budget support and food security.
The Ministers underscored their commitment to reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East in accordance with the two-state solution, as described in the Arab Peace Initiative, along the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps, in accordance with internationally recognized parameters. They stressed the importance of avoiding unilateral actions that undermine the two-state solution and increase tensions, as well as preserving the historic status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites, recognizing the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in this regard. The Ministers reiterated their support for the Palestinian Authority and improving Palestinians’ daily lives, including through humanitarian assistance and efforts to accelerate Palestinian economic growth.
On Syria, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to reaching an inclusive political solution to the Syrian crisis in a manner that preserves Syria’s unity and sovereignty, meets the aspirations of its people, is consistent with international humanitarian law, and is in line with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2254 (2015). In that regard, the Ministers welcomed Arab efforts to resolve the crisis in a step-for-step manner, consistent with UNSCR 2254, as decided during the meeting of the Arab Ministerial Contact Group on Syria on May 1, 2023 in Amman and affirmed on August 15, 2023 in Cairo. The Ministers reaffirmed support for U.S. and Coalition forces, who are working to achieve the enduring defeat of Da’esh in Syria. The Ministers further condemned all actions that threaten the safety and security of these forces. They stressed the need to create secure conditions for the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons consistent with UN standards, and the importance of providing the necessary support to Syrian refugees and to the countries hosting them. The Ministers reiterated their call for a nationwide ceasefire. They emphasized that full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to all Syrians in need – through all modalities including cross-border and crossline– must be ensured. They also reiterated the need to support humanitarian early recovery projects. Furthermore, they discussed enhancing cooperation to address the issue of missing persons – as outlined in the Amman Communique and UNSCR 2254 – in coordination with all concerned parties.
Kuwait and Iraq
The Ministers stressed the importance of Iraq’s commitment to Kuwait’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect for international conventions and UN resolutions, especially UNSC Resolution 833 regarding the demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq boundary. They called for the complete demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq maritime boundary beyond boundary point 162 and called on the Government of Iraq to expeditiously resolve the domestic legal status of the 2012 Kuwait-Iraq Agreement to regulate maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah and ensure that the agreement remains in force. The Ministers renewed their support for UNSC Resolution 2107 (2013) regarding the transfer of the file related to repatriation of all Kuwaitis, including missing Kuwaitis, and return of Kuwaiti property, including the national archives, to the UN Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), and expressed their hope that Iraq will continue to cooperate to ensure progress in this file. They called on Iraq and the UN to exert maximum efforts to reach a resolution of all the issues involved.
Climate Change and Environment
The Ministers stressed the importance of collectively facing the global challenge of climate change and sustainability. They committed to exert all efforts to deal with this urgent issue and to raise the ceiling of climate ambitions through defining and achieving maximum ambitions for emissions reduction, production of renewables and adopting creative solutions and technologies for a speedy transition to low carbon economies. The Ministers agreed to continue exploring creative and sustainable solutions to fulfill Paris goals and called on states to activate their contributions to and participation in COP28, to be hosted by the UAE in November 2023.
The Ministers welcomed the convening of the International Horticultural Exposition in the State of Qatar from October 2023 through March 2024, to encourage creative solutions regarding sustainability, environmental awareness, and desertification.
GCC-U.S. Strategic Partnership
The Ministers affirmed their shared determination to contribute to regional security, stability, and prosperity under the framework of the GCC-U.S. Strategic Partnership. The Ministers underscored their mutual resolve to build closer relations in all fields, including defense and security cooperation, and developing collective approaches to regional issues. The Ministers emphasized the importance of the principles of tolerance and peaceful coexistence for relations between nations. The Ministers noted the recognition by the Security Council in Resolution 2686 that hate speech, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, related forms of intolerance, gender discrimination and acts of extremism can contribute to driving the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict, and reaffirmed States must respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction as provided for by relevant international law.
The Ministers affirmed the importance of maintaining periodic working group meetings to achieve greater coordination and look forward to convening meetings of GCC-U.S. working groups, including the cyber security, integrated air and missile defense, and maritime security working groups later this year.