Yemen holds talks on GCC membership [Archives:2005/823/Front Page]

March 10 2005

SANAA – In a continued bid to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Yemen Foreign Minister met on Monday in Sana'a with the Secretary General of the GCC.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu-Bakr al-Qirbi said full membership for Yemen, which has previously been vetoed by GCC members, would reflect his country's historical ties with other Gulf nations.

Al-Qirbi acknowledged however, that “there are many points of dissimilarity between Yemen and its Gulf neighbours”, and he called for discussions on these aspects to be based on “transparency and trust.” “We realize that we face a set of obstacles that we must overcome to gain membership,” he said.

GCC Secretary-General Abdul-Rahman al-Atya who is in Yemen on a three-day official visit to discuss the country's quest for membership, told Yemeni officials on Monday that their country must harmonise economic legislation with laws enforced in other Gulf States.

At a meeting with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, al-Atya also asked Yemen to join the Gulf Arab Free Trade Zone and other gulf economic bodies, before being considered for GCC membership.

Yemen's state-run Saba news agency reported that Saleh has ordered to his government to accelerate work on reforming Yemeni legislation in line with the GCC requests.

Yemen has been trying since 1996 to join the GCC, which was established in 1981 to group Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

After five years of rebuff, Gulf leaders decided at a December 2001 summit to allow Yemen to join the GCC council of health ministers, a regional education bureau, the council of labour and social affairs ministers and the Gulf football cup as part of a gradual integration.

Yemen's drive to join the GCC has repeatedly faced vetoes from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.