|GCC summit announces plan to study joint nuclear program, welcomes advice in US report on Iraq|
|Gulf Arab leaders on Sunday denounced political assassinations in Lebanon and urged dialogue among feuding factions, a day after the Saudi king warned that the situation in the region was potentially explosive.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders also announced that they were considering a shared program to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
At the end of a two-day summit in Riyadh, the GCC issued a statement denouncing "the resumption of the cycle of violence and political assassinations" in Lebanon. It urged the Lebanese to "abide by legitimate constitutional institutions" and stressed the need for "dialogue and reason in order to overcome the present circumstances."
Speaking to reporters after the summit, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal pledged support for Lebanon.
"The ongoing controversy in Lebanon does not and will not lead to a solution," he said, adding that Lebanon "is not in need of new tragedies," the official Kuwaiti News Agency reported him as saying.
Asked about plans to visit Lebanon, Saud did not confirm or deny reports of an imminent trip.
"Visiting Lebanon would not be a first, but the important issue here is what Lebanon wants and the Lebanese can come together to solve their problems," the Saudi official News Agency quoted him as saying.
Saudi Arabia is worried by the rising influence of mostly Shiite Iran through support for Lebanon's Hizbullah, Shiite parties in Iraq and Tehran's alliance with Damascus.
"Our Arab region is surrounded by a number of dangers, like a powder keg ready to explode," Saudi King Abdullah said on Saturday ahead of the GCC summit.
The Palestinians are reeling from "a hostile and ugly occupation" by Israel, he said.
But "most dangerous for the [Palestinian] cause is the conflict among brethren," he said in a reference to the differences between Fatah and Hamas.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, he added, In Iraq "a brother is still killing his brother."
Abdullah also warned that Lebanon risked sliding into renewed civil strife as a result of the current political standoff.
"In Lebanon, we see dark clouds threatening the unity ... which risks sliding again into ... conflict among the sons of the same country," he said.
Amid concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and the assumption that Israel has nuclear weapons, the GCC said Sunday it wants to acquire nuclear energy capability and has ordered a study on a possible joint program.
"The countries of the region have the right to nuclear energy technology for peaceful purposes," GCC Secretary General Abdel-Rahman al-Atiyya said.
The statement called on Iran to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear energy program. It also called on Israel to cooperate with international bodies over its nuclear facilities.
The GCC statement said its nuclear program would be aimed at meeting energy needs.
"The higher committee ordered a GCC-wide study to be carried out to create a joint program in nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, according to international standards and arrangements," Atiyya said.
On Iraq, the GCC said it was "deeply concerned at the deteriorating security situation" and affirmed its "support for the Iraqi government in confronting these acts, urging it to immediately disband militias."
It stressed the need for "non-interference in Iraq's internal affairs by any party ... which is liable to consecrate divisions and sectarianism."
Prince Saud also welcomed a US report on foreign policy for having emphasized a need to focus more attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Beirut,12 12 2006
The Daily Star