All set for GCC summit in Doha


Doha : Leaders of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states are set to start arriving here Monday to begin their summit talks, which are set to focus on a wide-range of issues topped by regional security and monetary union.

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An added significance to the two-day event, which will be held at Sheraton Doha, will be the attendance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, marking Tehran’s first participation in the meetings.

Iran is in the midst of conflict with the West over its nuclear program.

The summit, to group leaders of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and host country Qatar, is expected to discuss the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

“The summit is important given the regional situation, chiefly the ongoing deterioration of the situation in Iraq and the escalation between Iran and the West over its nuclear program,” Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdulrahman Al-Attiyah was quoted as saying.

The leaders are also expected to discuss a host of economic issues, topped by the planned launch of the GCC common market early next year. The rapidly declining value of the US dollar will figure high on the agenda. Currencies of all member states, except for Kuwait, are pegged to the greenback.

Aside from the situation in Iraq, Iran, and other developments, the meeting will also discuss obstacles hampering the implementation of customs union launched in January 2003 and plans by economy and finance ministers to launch a monetary union.

The summit will discuss 11 recommendations by labor ministers to help recruit indigenous GCC manpower along with slowly decreasing dependence on foreign labor.

According to estimates, some 10 million foreigners work and live in the GCC states, sending home some USD 30 billion annually.

Finance and foreign affairs ministers are meanwhile expected here Sunday. They will be holding separate meetings and a joint session later in the day.