ABU DHABI // The GCC states are planning to send parliamentary delegations to the European Parliament and the US Congress to press Arab causes.
Parliamentary officials said such a move would allow them to present issues from the viewpoint of the representatives of the GCC's citizens directly to the outside world.
Key to yesterday's meeting of the speakers of GCC parliaments in Abu Dhabi was an agreement on a framework that would allow the Gulf countries to act more as a bloc in the international arena, giving their causes extra weight.
They agreed to hold an annual meeting of GCC parliamentarians, the timing of which is yet to be decided.
Parliamentary diplomacy had already yielded many benefits, the speakers said, with several Arab officials being voted into leading roles in international and Islamic committees, as well as raising awareness of Arab causes such as Iran's occupation of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa.
A greater use of parliamentary diplomacy would allow the leaders of parliament to defend the interests of people who live in the area covered by the Gulf Co-operation Council, said Abdulaziz al Ghurair, the speaker of the FNC, who chaired the meeting.
After the meeting the parliamentary heads spoke out against "terrorist activities" and "vandalism" in Bahrain. The country arrested opposition activists ahead of last month's parliamentary elections.
They also called for a nuclear-free Middle East, Israel to get rid of its nuclear arsenal and for the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme to be resolved peacefully.