Riyadh– Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani confirmed that cooperation between Gulf countries and UK is not new, especially in security and defense.
Zayani pointed out that there are several plans that are being constantly updated to counter terrorism and fight Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.
The Sec-Gen stated that the cooperation is ongoing, which was reiterated during the summit held in Bahrain.
Zayani was speaking during the inauguration of a seminar on the strategic partnership between the GCC and the United Kingdom in the framework of efforts exerted by the Gulf and British sides to promote the outcomes of the GCC-British Summit which was held in Bahrain in December 2016.
The seminar was held at the Prince Saud al-Faisal Center for Conferences.
Zayani stressed that this forum aims at reviewing the achievements of GCC-British relations and cooperation. He added that during last year’s summit, Gulf countries and the UK agreed on forming a joint group to counter terrorism, secure borders, and enhance societies’ abilities to recover and stabilize.
They also agreed to increase joint military drills and training including maritime drills, border security, and establish stronger economic and trade relations.
The Sec-Gen reviewed the most important outcomes of the first summit between the GCC and the UK.
British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Simon Collis confirmed that UK-Gulf friendship goes back ages, adding that trade between London and Gulf countries reached 30 million pounds over the past year.
The ambassador said that his country is adamant on establishing new partnerships while maintaining their old relations, stating that these partnerships will help the UK face all the challenges, establish security and stability.
Collis said that British Prime Minister Theresa May was clear when she said: “Gulf security is our security and Gulf prosperity is our prosperity. "
When asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about the free trade negotiations with Gulf countries, Collis reported that this issue hadn’t been established officially. He explained that foreign trade is part of the European Commission, and it is impossible to discuss this matter before Brexit negotiations are over.
The ambassador confirmed that the relations with Gulf countries are not competitive but rather complementary. He added that there is a possibility to discuss and negotiate the general idea of free trade and he doesn’t expect to face any difficulties especially that the Gulf is the most important market following Europe and North America.