Monday, June 14, 2010

GCC, EU eye close cooperation in key areas

"RIYADH: The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the 27-member European Union (EU) will endorse a joint action plan that includes a provision for cooperation in the field of nuclear power during the EU-GCC ministerial meeting to be held in Luxembourg on Monday.

“The three-year action plan (2010-2013) aims at strengthening ties between the two blocs,” said Fahad Yousef Al-Eatany, adviser at the Saudi Embassy in Brussels.

The meeting is significant keeping in view the renewed interests to promote relations between the GCC and the EU, said Al-Eatany. The ministerial meeting will be co-presided over by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton...The action plan covers several areas of cooperation, such as trade, energy, transportation, telecommunication and culture, said the Saudi diplomat. The meeting will also debate regional issues like Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East peace process and Iraq... “We have already held advanced talks on energy,” said Al-Mulla and explained that the EU and GCC have formed a separate forum on energy, which met in Kuwait early this month. The energy tie-up will greatly help the EU, which imports 82 percent of its oil needs, 57 percent of its gas requirements and 97 percent of its uranium demands. Referring to the 20-year-old partnership between the EU and the GCC, Cristina Gallach, a senior European Union official, said the partners are looking “to collaborate beyond trade,” which has been in focus for a long time. “The two sides are eyeing cooperation in the fields of renewable energy, education and science and technology,” said Gallach, adding that the Gulf region is growing in importance worldwide."

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