Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)


June 1, 2010 - Singapore

Your Excellencies, Honorable Friends, Excellency Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia, President of the Asian side.

I would like to begin by expressing our happiness and welcoming the convening of the second ministerial meeting between the GCC and ASEAN countries, hoping that our meeting will achieve the goals and objectives towards enhancing and strengthening the relations of friendship and partnership between the countries and peoples of the two friendly systems. I must extend, on behalf of the GCC countries, our sincere thanks and appreciation to the friendly Republic of Singapore for its generous hospitality and warm reception, especially to His Excellency George Yeo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.

Your Excellencies, Honorable Friends,

We have been closely following with concern and anger the recent developments in the Gaza Strip. The GCC countries strongly condemn the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza. As this attack targeted a civilian ship carrying humanitarian aid in international waters, it constitutes a clear crime against humanity, a blatant violation of international humanitarian law, and piracy on the high seas. This necessitates urgent and immediate intervention by the United Nations and the international community to stop this bloody massacre, lift the unjust blockade on the Gaza Strip completely, and release all passengers of the Freedom Flotilla immediately and without delay.

We in the GCC countries greatly value the good historical relations that unite us with the ASEAN countries, which have established a distinguished economic and trade cooperation, whether at the level of government of the member states or at the individual level of private sector institutions. This cooperation has effectively supported the foundations of common economic development, in the interest of the peoples and governments of the member countries on both sides.

In this context, we must emphasize that the current global developments have highlighted the urgent need for peace, security, and sustainable development, especially with the trends imposed by global economic growth, which have emphasized the language of alliances and blocs in a reality that does not recognize small entities or the confinement of the state to itself. The concepts of integration and mutual dependence prevail over the concepts of self-sufficiency, emphasizing the need to establish common foundations for understanding and cooperation between leading regional economic blocs, which represent advanced models of economic integration and cooperation at the regional level.

At our first meeting held in the Kingdom of Bahrain last year, we agreed on the importance of unifying visions and ideas towards enhancing cooperation between the two sides in various priority areas, foremost among them considering the possibility of negotiating to establish a free trade area between the two sides, which would be a major boost to strengthening mutual cooperation between the two sides and working together to remove all barriers and obstacles that may hinder the achievement of the desired goals, leading to advanced stages of cooperation between the two sides that benefit everyone.

Firstly, in the field of energy, secondly, in the field of labor, thirdly, in the finance and banking services sector. The exchange of interests and experiences in the aforementioned areas, especially given the immense economic potentials and promising opportunities in Asian countries, will achieve a unique cooperation that contributes to the success and development of the partnership project between the two important regional blocs. Here, we must also welcome the Joint Vision Document issued by the first ministerial meeting, which announced the building of a new partnership between our two systems, through which cooperation frameworks between the two sides are enhanced, and it is launched towards broader horizons that guarantee security, peace, and a prosperous future for our generations.

In conclusion, I would like to reaffirm once again the readiness of the GCC countries and their continuous welcome for consultation, coordination, and the continuation of these joint ministerial meetings with our friends in the ASEAN countries to achieve the common goal of supporting everything that contributes to enhancing cooperation between the two friendly systems.

Peace be upon you.

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