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Gaza dominates Gulf leaders summit

Gaza dominates Gulf leaders summit

Gulf Arab leaders entered day two of their summit on Tuesday preoccupied with crafting a unified position on Israel's attacks on Gaza, even as their finance ministers finalized a draft for a monetary union pact that would go into effect before the end of 2009.
The annual meeting of leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council was initially aimed at finalizing a long-sought after accord that would lead to the creation of a monetary authority and a unified currency by 2010. Also to be discussed was the establishment of a regional central bank for the bloc, which groups oil rich Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar _
Kuwait's finance minister on Tuesday said he and his colleagues had completed the final plan for the monetary union that would be submitted to the leaders for their signature later that day.
The state-run Kuwait News Agency quoted Mostafa al-Shimali as saying the agreement would go into effect by Dec. 12, 2009, and that GCC finance ministers have approved the bylaws of an executive council that would pave the way for a regional central bank.
"The unified currency is considered a next stage and has its own timetable," al-Shimali said.
Summit host Oman has repeatedly said it will not join in the unified currency, saying the step was not necessary at this time and required greater planning.
Despite progress on the economic agenda, the Israeli air assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza was the focus of much of the discussion between the leaders Tuesday as it had on Monday, the first day of the meeting, GCC diplomats said.
The three-day air assault has left at least 360 Palestinians dead, reduced dozens of buildings to rubble in the impoverished area and sparked outrage throughout the Middle East.
The GCC discussions revolved around trying to craft a unified stance on the attacks, and how to push major international powers into exerting pressure on Israel, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
Rifts had emerged over whether to hold an emergency Arab League leaders summit in Qatar on Friday, on the heels of 22-member group meeting in Cairo scheduled for Wednesday.
While some GCC members supported the idea, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal said it would be "futile to attend a summit of statements that does not have the condition for success and influence."
GCC leaders also discussed a range of other issues, from Iran's nuclear program to India-Pakistan relations.
The meeting was also aimed at helping the countries craft plans for combating the impact of the global financial meltdown. Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, during his opening comments Monday night, called for cooperation between all nations to overcome the impact of the international financial crisis.
He also stressed the necessity to balance the needs of oil producers and consumers, saying such cooperation should be based on "stable prices that will not burden the consumers, does not harm the producers and (helps them) maintain their economic development."
Gulf nations have been hit hard by the roughly 70 percent slide in oil prices from their mid-July highs of $150 per barrel. Many of the countries rely on crude sales for as much as 90 percent of their foreign revenue.
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El-Tablawy contributed to this report from Cairo, Egypt.


Updated : 2021-08-06 03:11 GMT+08:00