GCC says talks on Iran's nuclear programme must include ballistic missiles

Gulf countries confirm support for governments in Middle East and North Africa in their efforts to combat terrorism

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef Falah al-Hajraf gestures during a news conference at the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) 41st Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia January 5, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

International talks with Iran over its nuclear programme should also cover other weapons, the Gulf Co-operation Council's secretary general said on Wednesday.

"Any future negotiations with Iran must include ballistic missiles and the nuclear file," said Dr Nayef Al Hajraf during a foreign ministers' summit in Riyadh.

The council condemned the use of civilians as shields by Iran-backed Houthi militias in the conflict in Yemen's Marib province.

It also criticised the Houthis over a fire that broke out at a migrant detention centre they control in Sanaa, leading to the deaths of dozens of people, most of them from Africa.

"Iran continues to support the Houthi militia and destabilise the region," Dr Al Hajraf said.

He said the GCC was committed to Saudi Arabia's stability and supported measures the kingdom was taking to preserve its security.

"The continued terrorist activities by Houthis in Yemen and Saudi Arabia represent serious threats – both regionally and internationally," the GCC secretary general said, highlighting the threats posed to international shipping routes and regional maritime security.

On Iraq, the GCC commended Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi's efforts to bolster security, and his swift response to terrorist activities that threaten the country's stability as it heads for elections, Dr Al Hajraf said.

Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Latif Al Zayani also spoke about the Gulf countries’ support for Saudi Arabia.

"The GCC stands united with Saudi Arabia in the face of the ongoing threats it faces," he said.

The declaration signed by the Gulf countries in Al Ula in January highlighted the need to maintain a united front, to ensure regional security and provide the necessary support to Yemen, Mr Al Zayani said.

A Saudi journalist is pictured in front of the logo of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Qatari national flag at the media centre ahead of the 41st summit in the city of al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia on January 5, 2021. - Saudi Arabia will reopen its borders and airspace to Qatar, US and Kuwaiti officials said, a major step towards ending a diplomatic rift that has seen Riyadh lead an alliance isolating Doha. The bombshell announcement came on the eve of GCC annual summit in the northwestern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Ula, where the dispute was already set to top the agenda. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)

The GCC also congratulated Libya on its new government of unity led by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and interim President Mohamed Menfi.

Hopes were high that Libya would fulfil its plans to achieve long-term stability within its borders, officials said.