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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 21/12/2011

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(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordan on Tuesday said that its goal of joining the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has not been forfeited, and more meetings between the Kingdom and the oil-rich bloc will continue in the coming stage.

In an interview with the Amman-based Ro'ya satellite channel as GCC leaders concluded a two-day meeting in Riyadh, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the council's decision to set up a 5 billion fund to support development in Jordan and Morocco, another applicant for accession, is not the end of the road.

Welcoming the move, the minister cited the meeting's communiqu that identified cooperation with Amman and Rabat as a priority, leading to partnership.

He told the station that the continued meetings of technical committees set up by GCC to look into the details of the partnership between Jordan and the Gulf bloc is an indicator that the process has not been halted.

"As long as meetings continue and our pursuit of partnership is there, we will be part of this organisation."

He stressed that none of the six members of the GCC has expressed reservations over accession, "but there are differences over the mechanism".

Due to structural changes that should be made to the GCC founding charter and related national laws in the case of expansion in the bloc membership, the accession process will take time, he said.

He announced that Finance Minister Umayya Toukan will soon be meeting with Gulf counterparts to outline Jordan's development needs in light of the decision to establish the fund.

The Associated Press quoted GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Ben Rashid Zayani as saying that the 5 billion will be divided equally between the two countries.

In May, Zayani said the six-member GCC accepted the two countries' request to join, but some procedures had to be completed before final approval.

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted an unnamed expert as saying: "At this point, everything has to do with security. These are the two kingdoms on the outer reach of the region that the Gulf wants to back in order to preserve their power status."

In their meeting, the Gulf leaders broadly endorsed Saudi King Abdullah's call to form a "single entity" in what appeared to be an attempt to form a more united front against a perceived threat from Iran, Reuters said.

The goal of greater union is enshrined in the council's 1981 founding charter, but has only been given impetus by the mass uprisings that have reshaped the power balance in the Middle East, as well as fears of a newly assertive non-Arab, Shiite Iran across the Strait of Hormuz.

Participants at the GCC meeting discussed the matter informally, officials said, and pledged to study and report back by March without specifying what concrete steps might be taken.


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