SECURITY PACT AGREED (Gulf News, 26/12/2012)

MANAMA: A unified GCC military command will be formed as part of efforts to strengthen ranks against possible threats.

The interests of GCC citizens can only be protected with greater cohesion, unity and integration, His Majesty King Hamad said in a keynote speech at the concluding session of the 33rd GCC Summit, which approved the proposal as part of an amended defence agreement.

Leaders condemned the recent callous and deadly terror bombings in Manama and backed steps taken by Bahrain to preserve its national unity and security.

The new military command will oversee GCC field, naval and air force troops and draw up defence and combat strategies.

« The GCC Defence Shield will continue in its current camp in Saudi Arabia and so will the GCC Navy in Bahrain, but the time has come when we unify our military efforts and powers within a central command, » said Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.

« Everyone is aware that the region is facing several threats and we have to be ready for any possible situation.

« Through a joint decision we will be able to stand strong and it is a step forward from the current military status. »

GCC secretary-general Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani said the GCC Defence agreement has been amended to allow the presence of the command.

« We had to change articles to have approval from all states in line with their constitutions and legislation, » he said.

« Everyone is aware that the Kuwaiti parliament has reservations on the agreement, but that’s something we will deal with when they take a vote, but from our current status the Kuwaiti Amir has given it the go-ahead. »

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