The following is a Joint Communiqué issued following the Second Ministerial Meeting for the U.S.-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum September 28, 2012:
Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Secretary General of the GCC, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met today in New York for the second ministerial meeting of the U.S.-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum. The Forum was launched in March 2012 to deepen strategic cooperation and coordination of policies to advance shared political, military, security, and economic interests in the Gulf region, foster enhanced stability and security throughout the Middle East, and strengthen the close ties between the GCC and the United States.
The officials reaffirmed their rejection of terrorism and extremism in all its forms, and strongly condemned the loss of life and damage to property that resulted from attacks on diplomatic facilities of the United States and other nations in recent weeks. The officials also strongly condemned the vulgar video clip that sought to denigrate the Prophet Mohammed and expressed their rejection of any intentional efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
The officials reached consensus on the major threats and challenges confronting the Gulf region. They assessed that in light of these challenges, the United States and GCC states should continue to enhance coordination to promote peace, security, stability, and prosperity throughout the Middle East region. They called for improved multilateral military and security cooperation to deal with threats to the territory of the GCC states and maritime security in the Gulf region. They pledged to enhance coordination regarding transitions underway across the Middle East. The officials expressed deep concern over the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria caused by the Assad regime’s wanton oppression of the Syrian people. The officials called on Iran to fully comply with its international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and relevant United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency resolutions.
The officials agreed that the September 27 Friends of Yemen Ministerial reflected their governments’ strong support for President Hadi and Yemen’s political transition, and called on the international community to take immediate action to support Yemen’s economic development and help it address pressing humanitarian needs. The officials urged Yemen to move quickly to begin the National Dialogue, a fundamental first step to other transition benchmarks that must follow in fully implementing the GCC initiative, and noted recent progress on some areas, including steps toward military reorganization and the appointment of a broadly representative and inclusive committee to support the National Dialogue.
The officials also noted the central role that economic success will play in supporting a secure and stable transition in Egypt, and reaffirmed a shared commitment to support Egypt throughout its transition.
The officials noted the importance of a common commitment to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and to seeking a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including a two-state solution.
The officials welcomed the formation of the Joint U.S.-GCC Security Committee, which deals with issues related to counter-terrorism and border security.
The officials welcomed the signing in New York on September 25 of the U.S.-GCC Framework Agreement for Trade, Economic, Investment and Technical Cooperation, which will establish closer cooperation between the two sides in these areas.
The officials reviewed efforts to enhance ballistic missile defense (BMD) cooperation in response to the proliferation of these weapons and consider BMD cooperation to be an essential element of their effort to promote peace and stability in the region. The officials also agreed on the need to continue to deepen U.S-GCC BMD cooperation.
The officials emphasized the importance of improving cooperation on counter-piracy and maritime security and took note of progress the GCC member states have made in establishing the new Maritime Operations Center in Bahrain. The Foreign Ministers welcomed U.S. offers to participate in this center and to work more closely to improve interoperability of maritime forces, harmonize maritime communication procedures, and expand combined U.S.-GCC naval operations. The officials praised the existing close cooperation on maritime security and encouraged enhanced efforts to further deepen and better coordinate these activities.
The officials noted recent efforts to bolster U.S. and GCC defense capabilities in the Gulf region to preserve freedom of navigation in international waterways and to deter any potential threats to close the Strait of Hormuz or interfere with regional and international commerce. These measures include increased naval and air deployments, multinational and bilateral maritime security exercises such as mine-sweeping, and improvements to regional air and ballistic missile defenses. They noted positively the participation of all GCC states in the September 2012 Mine Countermeasures Exercise as an important step toward advancing coordination on maritime security, and expressed their intention to identify ways to further build upon this collaboration.
The officials expressed support for continued efforts to further develop and expand U.S.-GCC counterproliferation cooperation, building on the efforts initiated at the March 2012 U.S.-GCC Counterproliferation Workshop held in Dubai, UAE.
The officials expressed grave concern with regard to the alarming regional repercussions that are caused by the continued crisis in Syria. Ministers condemned the ever increasing use of force and collective punishment by the Syrian regime, including indiscriminate shelling and the use of helicopters and aircraft directed at civilians, and reiterated their call for President Assad to step down and allow a democratic transition to begin, as called for in the June 30 Syrian Action Group communiqué. They also condemned all unlawful killing, torture and detentions, and other violations of human rights and international law in Syria and pledged that all those who commit such violations must be held accountable. They expressed their alarm at the daily deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria resulting in increased numbers of refugees entering neighboring countries. They called upon the international community to support the Syrian people in seeking a democratic state in which the rights of all citizens are protected.
The officials expressed their grave concern over Iran’s ongoing military and financial support for the Assad regime and Iran’s continued efforts to expand its nuclear program and enriched uranium stockpile in violation of its international obligations. Ministers called on Iran to uphold its international responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and United Nations Security Council resolutions and to fully and transparently cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The officials called on Iran to commit seriously to a constructive diplomatic process with the P5+1 to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. They expressed deep concern about continued Iranian interference in the domestic affairs of GCC member countries and called on Iran to respect international norms in this regard.
The officials reaffirmed the continued value of the U.S.-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum and identified priority areas for sub-ministerial task forces to focus on in the coming period. They agreed that senior representatives from the United States and the GCC countries should meet regularly to continue discussion of these issues. They agreed that the discussions and decisions reached at this second ministerial meeting will advance further development of the U.S.-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum as a key mechanism for strengthening collaboration and cooperation to address mutual interests across the region.