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Gulf states to weigh union at summit

Riyadh, May 14, 2012

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will weigh closer political union at a summit of Gulf leaders today, aimed at perceived Iranian threat.

'The summit will discuss all the points, including the points of union,' said Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa after preparatory talks in Riyadh on Sunday.

When leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also takes in Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman, met in December, Saudi King Abdullah called on the six to move 'to the stage of unity in a single entity'.

While Gulf analysts say smaller GCC members are averse to further integration, fearing a loss of sovereignty and influence in a region of traditional feuds, politicians from Bahrain have speculated about a confederation with Saudi Arabia.

'I expect there will be an announcement of two or three countries. We can't be sure but I have a strong expectation,' said Bahraini Information Minister Samira Rajab on Sunday.

Bahrain has been wracked by protests for more than a year.

Bahrain's foreign minister told Reuters on Sunday that 'the union covers all the countries', when asked about the possibility of a solely two-track approach.

Monday's discussions between the six states, to take place in a Riyadh palace, will be closely watched on the streets of Bahrain where the main opposition has denounced the idea of greater union. - Reuters




Tags: Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Gulf | GCC | Union |

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