Dubai crisis looms over Kuwait talks

The debt crisis that has left Dubai on its knees and sent jitters throughout the region is likely to be the focus of talks at the annual summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which opens in Kuwait-city on Monday.


AFP - Gulf states open a two-day annual summit in Kuwait City on Monday with the global recession's impact on their energy-rich economies and regional conflicts high on the agenda.

Leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will explore ways to boost their economies which have also suffered from the knock-on effect of Dubai's debt crisis.

Kuwait's Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali on Sunday urged his GCC counterparts to work together in order to contain ongoing fallout from the financial crisis, although he made no explicit reference to Dubai.

"Global economic indicators in the second half of the current year require us to work together to avert any additional consequences of the crisis," Shamali told a meeting of the region's finance ministers.

The economies of GCC nations, which boast 45 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and a quarter of global gas resources, have been hit hard by the sharp drop in oil revenues after years of major cash flow.

It was not immediately known if the GCC members -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- will step in to assist heavily indebted Dubai, one of seven emirates in the UAE federation.

The glitzy Gulf tourism hub sent jitters throughout global markets in late November when it signalled difficulties in repaying the debt of its largest conglomerate Dubai World, which has liabilities of 59 billion dollars.

A number of key economic integration projects will be launched at the summit.

The leaders are expected to officially launch a monetary union pact, approve a multi-billion-dollar railway network and commission the start of a common power grid project.

Politically, Yemen's fight against Shiite rebels and Saudi Arabia's involvement in the conflict plus the Iran nuclear issue and the impact of both on regional security will also top the agenda.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah told a foreign ministers meeting that GCC states were surrounded by "grave security developments and serious economic implications."

His Yemeni counterpart Abu Bakr al-Kurbi secured assurances of "economic and security" support from the GCC states during a visit to Kuwait City where he delivered a letter from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the Kuwaiti ruler.

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