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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, thank you very, very much, and it’s really wonderful to be with all of our colleagues today.  And I thank each and every one of you for joining.  Sayyid Badr, thank you for your leadership of the council.  It’s greatly appreciated.  And let me also recognize the newly appointed GCC secretary general.  We will miss having Sayyid[1] in Washington, but look forward to our partnership and friendship through the GCC.

As President Biden affirmed when he was in Jeddah just a year ago, the United States is in this region to stay, and we remain deeply invested in partnering with all of you to build the brightest and strongest possible future for the Middle East.   And indeed, the GCC is at the core of our vision for a Middle East that is more stable, more secure, more prosperous, more integrated.

Together we are working to achieve a durable resolution to the conflict in Yemen and bring desperately needed relief to millions of Yemenis.  We continue to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its nuclear escalation and recent seizures of oil tankers in international waters.  We’re combating terrorism throughout the Middle East and around the world, a topic that also brings us to Riyadh this week.  And we’re determined to find a political solution in Syria that maintains its unity and sovereignty, that meets the aspirations of its people, that complies with international law, that upholds the core principles of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

We share a commitment to lowering Israeli-Palestinian tensions, maintaining a horizon of hope, and working toward a two-state solution.  And we’re also collaborating with countries in the region to widen and deepen the normalization of relations with Israel.  Responding to the latest crisis in Sudan, we’re continuing to push to silence the guns, to press for humanitarian access, to help the Sudanese people realize their demands for a transition to democracy.

But I think one point of emphasis for us is that our engagement with you, with our partners, our engagement in the Gulf, is not solely defined by the challenges that we’re facing, as acute as they may be.  Together, the United States and the GCC are pursuing an affirmative agenda for the region and beyond – infrastructure development, climate mitigation, health security, food security.  In these and other areas we’re advancing shared priorities that have the potential to diversify economies, to build greater resilience, and ultimately deliver practical results for our people.

If you just look at the green tech revolution which our countries are accelerating through research and investment in clean energy, smart grids, critical minerals, desalinization.  COP 28 – which, of course, the UAE will host this November – is an opportunity to showcase the Middle East’s significant advances and ambitious plans to transition to clean energy and investments in climate-smart agriculture that will both help tackle the climate crisis but also strengthen food security, which is an acute need around the world.  As we transition to this greener future, it’s important that we build out existing energy infrastructure as well, and we applaud the remarkable strides that you’ve made linking GCC power grids to Iraq, as one example.

We’re also continuing to deepen our science and technology cooperation beyond the energy sector, including through joint research initiatives, university-commercial partnerships, and cutting-edge collaboration in areas like data sharing, biotech, and outer space.  And I simply want to thank you all on behalf of President Biden, on behalf of the United States, for your partnership, and very much look forward to discussing what more we can do in the spirit of the GCC’s charter to further coordination, to further cooperation, to further integration across the Gulf.

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[1] Jasem Albudaiwi

U.S. Department of State

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