Canada–Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategic Dialogue

The Canada–GCC Strategic Dialogue provides the framework for Canada to engage in an ongoing dialogue with GCC countries at the Ministerial and working level. The Canada-GCC Strategic Dialogue, announced in 2013, establishes a commitment to a long-term strategic partnership to promote mutual economic prosperity as well as security and stability in the region.

The second Ministerial meeting of the Canada-GCC Strategic Dialogue was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 23, 2016 and was attended by Minister Dion. This meeting provided an opportunity for a wide discussion on a range of regional issues, including the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and joint efforts to combat the expansion of terrorism, while setting a path for further progress on shared humanitarian, political and trade and investment goals. The next joint ministerial meeting will be held in 2017.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Joint Communique: Second Joint Ministerial Meeting on Strategic Dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council and Canada

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
May 23rd, 2016 (16 Shaban 1437 A.H.)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Canada convened the Second Joint Ministerial Meeting of the GCC-Canada Strategic Dialogue in Jeddah on Monday 23rd of May 2016. The meeting was co-chaired by His Excellency Dr. Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, current GCC Chairman, and His Excellency Mr. Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, with participation of Their Excellencies the Foreign Ministers of the GCC Member States and Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the GCC Secretary-General.

The ministers expressed satisfaction with the second round of the GCC-Canada Strategic Dialogue. They welcomed the opportunity to explore ways to have meaningful, ongoing conversations on a variety of issues in the spirit of advancing mutual priorities.

Inspired by the existing strong relationship and cooperation between Canada and the GCC, and the desire to develop such bonds in various areas of cooperation, the ministers welcomed the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the GCC Secretariat and the Government of Canada on the mechanism of consultation between the two sides and endeavored to hold annual meetings between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada and the GCC Secretary-General to consult on political, regional and international areas of mutual interest, and enhance GCC-Canada cooperation in all areas. The subsequent meetings are to be hosted alternately by Canada and by the GCC. 

The ministers noted the existing trade relationship between Canada and the GCC and the potential to further develop those ties. They agreed to the GCC-Canada Joint Action Plan (2016-2020) which establishes a framework to formalize the Canada-GCC Strategic Dialogue. The Joint Action Plan covers joint cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including political and security, trade and investment, energy, education and health. Ministers looked forward to expanded GCC-Canada relations through increased people-to-people contacts, and further cooperation in the social, economic, educational, cultural and scientific fields, and human rights.

The meeting reviewed a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern.

The GCC and Canada reiterated their commitment towards maintaining the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Syria. The ministers expressed solidarity with the Syrian people and emphasized the importance of the full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, as well as all other relevant resolutions, and the need to ensure immediate and sustained humanitarian access to all besieged areas without exception.  The Ministers also call on all parties to immediately release all arbitrarily detained persons, especially women and children.  The Ministers expressed their deep concern for the plight of all Syrians, including refugees and internally displaced persons impacted by the war, and urged all parties to refrain from targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with international humanitarian law.  The ministers emphasized the importance of full and uninterrupted adherence to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in order to create the conditions on the ground necessary for the peace talks to succeed and for a political solution in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012.  The Ministers expressed full support for the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura. 

On Iraq, the ministers reiterated their commitment towards maintaining the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Iraq and expressed solidarity with the Iraqi people in countering the so-called ISIL/Da’esh, reaffirming the need to intensify support and cooperation with the Iraqi government in its endeavor to meet the needs of all Iraqi people. The ministers also expressed the ultimate importance of the existence of an inclusive effective government, while stressing the need to implement reforms, as well as strengthen the capacities of Iraqi security forces in the fight against the ISIL/Da’esh. The ministers reiterated their support for the Government of Iraq’s efforts to maintain the security and stability of Iraq, as well as for the need to provide continued financial support to stabilization efforts in newly liberated areas and the humanitarian programs that would help the people affected by the conflict. 

The ministers welcomed the cessation of hostilities in Yemen, pledged to support it, and urged all Yemeni parties to also abide by it, expressing their continued strong support for the UN envoy, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed. They also emphasized the importance of progress in the UN mediated talks convening in Kuwait and urged all parties to make the difficult decisions necessary to achieve a durable, inclusive political settlement of the conflict, according to the terms of UN Security Resolution 2216 (2015), the GCC Initiative, and Yemen's National Dialogue outcomes. The ministers stressed the need to protect civilians and ensure the unimpeded, timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to relieve the suffering of the Yemeni people.

Regarding Libya, the ministers welcomed the recent seating of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli. They expressed the strong view that all Libyans throughout the country must overcome attempted obstructions through the strict implementation of the Skheirat Accord, respect the Government’s authority and legitimacy, and embrace this important opportunity for a peaceful and more prosperous future. The two sides also called on the international community to assist the Government of National Accord’s work addressing the challenges facing Libya, including the grave threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh. They reaffirmed their support for the efforts of the UN envoy for Libya, Martin Kobler.

The GCC countries and Canada also underscored the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just, lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel. Toward that end, the Ministers reaffirmed the enduring importance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and determined to remain closely coordinated on efforts to encourage the parties to demonstrate - through policies and actions - their commitment to a two-state solution.

The ministers reaffirmed their serious concerns over Iran's support for terrorism and its destabilizing activities in the region, including those manifested by Hezbollah, stressing the need to abide by the principles of good neighborliness, non-interference in domestic affairs, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, to refrain from the use of force or the threat thereof, and to resolve disputes through peaceful means.

The two sides emphasized the necessity of ensuring that Iran implements its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and stressed the importance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s verification role in this respect. The two sides also noted the fact that the JCPOA provides for the possibility of re-imposing sanctions should Iran fail to implement its commitments under the JCPOA.

The ministers reaffirmed the importance of implementing Security Council Resolution 2231 (July 2015) on the nuclear agreement, including with respect to Iran’s ballistic missile program and other weapons. They expressed their deep concern over Iran's continued ballistic missile launches, which go against the spirit of the Resolution. 

The ministers reiterated the importance of establishing a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by the States of the region.  They acknowledged the right of all states parties of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in conformity with nuclear non-proliferation obligations in the Treaty and the necessity of addressing the environmental concerns of countries of the region. They also stressed the need for Iran to ratify and fully implement all nuclear safety treaties.  

Regarding terrorism, the ministers condemned the barbaric crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh and other terrorist groups, reiterating their rejection of terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of its motives and justifications, and their commitment to cutting off its sources of funding. The ministers stressed that the campaign against ISIL/Da’esh is not religious or sectarian, rather it is a fight against terrorism and brutality. They also agreed to strengthen their ongoing cooperation to defeat terrorism and enhance security and stability, including efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.

The two sides agreed to hold their next joint ministerial meeting in 2017. 

May 23rd 2016 (16th Shaban 1437 A.H.)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia