Gulf states skip Qatar, blast Huthis as summit ends


Kuwait City (AFP)

The Gulf Cooperation Council wrapped up an annual summit Tuesday without discussing the Qatar crisis, the worst in the bloc's history, but they did blast Yemen's Huthi rebels and Iran.

The six-nation regional alliance affirmed in a joint declaration the importance of preserving the GCC's existence which was threatened by a bitter dispute between its members.

"The holding of the summit amid these delicate situations proves the faith and conviction of GCC leaders in this organisation," Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah told a concluding news conference.

The summit was shortened to one day from the original two and saw the absence of the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which along with Egypt severed political and economic ties with Qatar six months ago.

"We appreciate the level of representation of any country and highly evaluate that the six member states have participated in the summit," the Kuwaiti minister said.

When asked if the summit discussed the dispute, GCC secretary-general Abdullatif al-Zayyani said: "This meeting was to reaffirm the solidarity within the GCC states and their joint work."

In their declaration, the Gulf states called for faster integration of programmes like the common market and the customs union to achieve complete economic unity by 2025.

They affirmed "the important role of the GCC, its cohesion and unity among members" and reiterated their resolve to fight terrorism and extremism.

The GCC members strongly condemned Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels for killing former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

They called for unity of all Yemeni groups and parties, including the party of Saleh, to "get rid of the Huthi militias which are following and being backed by Iran."

The GCC condemned "all terrorist actions carried out by Iran and its continued interference in the internal affairs and Arab countries," the statement said.

It said GCC leaders were committed to work with the administration of US President Donald Trump in confronting terrorism and Iran's expansionist policies in the region.

They selected Oman to host the next summit.