First Ministerial Meeting of Arab-India Cooperation Forum held Manama

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What :  First Ministerial Meeting
Who : Arab-India
When : January 24,2016

The first Ministerial Meeting of the Arab-India Cooperation Forum took place in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, on January 24 , with the participation of Foreign Ministers of Arab States, Minister of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States.

The two sides recalled the historic and civilizational ties that exist between the Arab World and India and underlined the contribution of the commercial and cultural ties in binding the two sides together. They hailed the strong foundation, great potential and wide-ranging prospects for the Arab-Indian Cooperation and the role this Forum can play to advance Arab–India relations towards capacious horizons. They confirmed their commitment to maintain international peace and security and to achieve sustainable development and expressed their commitment to work together to tackle political and economic challenges through closer consultation, cooperation and coordination in various fields.

The two sides discussed regional and global issues of mutual concern, including the Palestinian issue, developments in the Arab region and in South Asia, as well as counterterrorism, Security Council reforms, and nuclear disarmament. They stressed the importance of cooperation between them in order to enhance confidence among regional countries and resolving conflicts, thereby bringing about peace and stability in the region and have reached the following understandings:

Regional Issues:
1. Affirming the need to achieve a comprehensive and permanent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the international legitimacy resolutions, especially UN Security Council resolutions 242 of 1976 and 338 of 1973, the relevant UN resolutions, Madrid Peace conference of 1991 and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut, in implementation of the two-state principle on the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestine State with East Jerusalem as its capital, living peace side by side with the State of Israel on the 1967 borders, within secure and recognized boundaries. Seeking a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian refugees’ cause in accordance with resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly and the Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that preserves security, stability and peace of all the countries in the region.

Calling on Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian “Arab” territories it seized in 1967 and dismantle all the settlements built there including the settlements erected in the occupied East Jerusalem on the basis that, according to the international Law, they are illegal and illegitimate. Calling for the holding of an international conference for peace in the Middle East and rejecting the construction of the Separation Wall built inside the Palestinian territories, on the basis of the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004. Calling on Israel to release all the Palestinian and Arab prisoners and detainees from its jails, halt the aggressions and crimes being committed by the Israeli settlers against the civilian Palestinians, work on providing International Protection for the Palestinian people and put an end to all the procedures that aim to alter the legal status of East Jerusalem with the aim of changing its nature, identity and Arab culture along with the attempts to change the existing historical status of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque, which all represent clear violations of the International Law, relevant UN resolutions, the four Geneva conventions. Valuing the significant role being played by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Holy city of Jerusalem and its caretaking role in the holy sites as specified in the historic agreement signed between His Majesty king Abdullah II, the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian State, which affirms the Hashemite care for the holy sites in the holy Jerusalem. Hailing the important role undertaken by His Majesty Mohammed VI, the King of the Kingdom of Morocco, in his capacity as the President of the Quds Committee and affirming the important role of the Bait Al-Mal in providing assistance to the Palestinian people.

Welcoming the outcome of the Cairo Conference on reconstruction of Gaza, held in October 2014, calling on the donor countries to live up to their pledges and calling for lifting the Israel-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip. In this context, the Arab side values the Indian position in support of the Palestinian cause, the financial support it pledged to offer during Cairo Conference in 2014, the role it plays in the development and capacity building the occupied Palestinian territories and its contribution in the UNRWA budget to help it carry out its duties towards the Palestinian refugees. Welcoming Kuwait’s hosting of an international conference on Palestinian children’s sufferings in the third quarter of 2016 amid the infringement of the Child Right Agreement by Israel. The Arab side appreciated the first state visit of the President of India to Palestine and his stay as first Head of State in Ramallah, interactions between Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine at New York, visit of Indian External Affairs Minister to Palestine and Indian contribution towards Palestinian budgetary support and assistance in various capacity building and human resource development projects.

2. The sides expressed deep concern regarding the situation in Syria and affirming the need to preserve the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability of Syria and the importance to reach a political solution to the crisis that preserves the lives of Syrians and leads to cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a transitional governing body in accordance with the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, the Vienna Statements of October and November 2015 issued by the International Syrian Support Group and the recently passed UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015). They affirmed their support for the efforts made by UN Secretary General and his Special Envoy. Underscoring the UNSCR 2209 (2015) that condemned the use of toxic gas in Syria and resolution 2139 (2014) and 2165 (2014) on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, called upon the Security Council for the full implementation of the two resolutions. The two sides urged the international community and all governments and international bodies and organizations of the United Nations and its Member States to provide support and assistance to Arab neighboring countries of Syria:Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt, in addition to Sudan for hosting Syrian refugees. They commended in this context, the role of H.H. Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah the Emir of Kuwait, for hosting the First, Second and Third International Donors’ Conference held in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and the participation of Kuwait in preparation for convening the Fourth Conference in 2016.

3. They reaffirmed their commitment to the national unity, sovereignty, independence, stability and territorial integrity of Lebanon. Calling for the full implementation of all relevant UNSC resolutions, and calling upon Israel to withdraw from the remaining occupied Lebanese territories and to immediately end all its violations of the Lebanese sovereignty by land, sea and air. Emphasizing the importance of supporting Lebanon, especially the Lebanese army in confronting the attacks carried out by terrorist groups.

4. The sides affirming respect to the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Iraq and non-interference in its internal affairs and rejecting infringement of such principles, strongly condemned crimes committed by all terrorist organizations, especially those committed by ISIS terrorist organization against all Iraqi people. They urged the international community to lend to the Iraqi government support on its war against terrorism and to implement International Resolutions issued in this regard and adherence to them.

5. Both the sides reaffirmed their commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya, in accordance to the principle of non-interference in its internal affairs. Expressing deep concern about the expanding activities of terrorist groups in the country, extended support to the ongoing political dialogue and the efforts made in this regard by Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya. They welcomed the Sokhirat Agreement on political solution to the crisis in Libya that was initiated by most Libyan political forces in July 2015, and appreciated the efforts of the Kingdom of Morocco in facilitating this agreement. They welcomed the signing of Libya Political Agreement (LPA) on 17 December 2015, adoption of the agreement in UNSC Resolution 2259 (2015) and announcement on formation of Government of National Accord (GNA) on 19 January 2016. They called upon all Libyans to support full implementation of LPA and UNSC Resolution 2259. They noted the efforts exerted by the neighbouring countries to Libya to facilitate the Intra Libyan dialogue.

6. The sides affirmed their full commitment to safeguard the unity and territorial integrity of Yemen, and respect for its sovereignty and independence, to reject interference in its internal affairs, to stand by the Yemeni people and their aspirations for freedom, democracy and social justice. They reaffirmed the relevant Security Council Resolutions, especially UNSCR 2201 (2015), and 2216 (2015) which particularly emphasizes support of the legitimate Government in Yemen represented by H.E. President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and condemns the unilateral procedures by the Houthi group as it undermines the transitional political process in Yemen. They called upon all Yemeni Parties to settle disputes through dialogue and consultation and to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations in this regard, they welcomed the establishment of “King Salman Center for Charity and Humanitarian Relief”. They affirmed the importance of implementing the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanisms and the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference. They welcomed the outcomes of Riyadh Conference which was held on 17-19/05/2015, upon the request of H.E the president of the republic of Yemen Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, with the participation of all Yemeni Parties, and asserted support for the United Nations efforts and the role of its Special Envoy to Yemen.

7. The sides expressed their support to all peaceful efforts, including the efforts of the United Arab Emirates, to reach a peaceful solution to the issue of the Islands of Greater Tunb, Smaller Tunb and Abu Musa with Iran through bilateral negotiations and in accordance with international law.

8. They emphasized the importance that cooperative relations between Arab States and the Islamic Republic of Iran be based on the principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in internal affairs, respect of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolution of disputes through peaceful means, according to UN Charter and International Law, and refraining from use or threat of force.

9. Condemning the attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran, and its Consulate General in Mashhad in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which resulted in intrusions into the diplomatic and consular premises, causing serious damage, with Iranian authorities bearing full responsibility for not protecting the diplomatic premises as stipulated by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

10. They welcomed the National Dialogue Conference which was launched in Khartoum and called upon the armed movements to stop fighting and engage in this National Dialogue, in response to the initiative of H.E. President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. They called upon the international concerned parties to fulfill their obligations towards the exemption of Sudan’s external debts for the South of Sudan’s post separation phase, in support of economic development and sustainable peace in Sudan. They urged the international community to include Sudan in the initiative of the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) and to resume development assistance, at the level of other post conflict countries. Calling for lifting of the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Sudan, which hinders achieving the goals of sustainable development and constitutes a violation of the rights of the people of Sudan to development.

11. They expressed their support to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia and welcomed the progress achieved on the political process and national reconciliation which would enhance security and stability. They supported all efforts towards sustainable development and building of state institutions and extended full support to the concerted international efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia as well as towards the release of the captive seafarers in Somalia, in effective coordination with the Government of Somalia. Both sides supported the African Union’s effort to assist Somali’s peace and security through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISON), as well as the Somali National Army. They supported the State of Kuwait’s orientation to organize a Donors’ Conference for education in Somalia in 2016.

12. The sides affirmed their respect to the national unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Comoros.

13. The sides congratulated the Republic of Tunisia on the occasion of awarding Nobel Peace Prize 2015 to the Quartet sponsoring the national dialogue, praising the spirit of compromise and dialogue that prevailed in the democratic transition process in Tunisia.

14. Both sides noted the essential positive and effective role played by Algeria in hosting the dialogue sessions among the Malian sides that culminated in the signing of the Peace and Reconciliation Accord in Algiers on 15/5/2015.

15. Both sides noted the efforts exerted by the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to ensure peace and security in the Republic of Mali as part of international mediation.

16. The two sides noted that regional peace and stability in South Asia requires an atmosphere free from the threat of terror and violence.

17. They affirmed the importance of supporting the reconstruction and stability in Afghanistan and expressed their support for a genuine Afghan owned, Afghan led and Afghan controlled reconciliation process towards the emergence of a peaceful, stable and strong Afghanistan.

18. The two sides expressed condemnation and resentment of the kidnapping of a number of Qataris in the South of Iraq as it constitutes violation of their human rights. They also expressed full solidarity with the Government of the State of Qatar and support for the measures it takes to secure their release. They expressed the hope that the communications carried out by the State of Qatar with the Republic of Iraq will yield positive results towards securing their safety and immediate end of their captivity.

19. The two sides expressed concern at the kidnapping of 39 Indian workers in Mosul in Iraq in June 2014 and 3 Indian workers in Sirte in Libya in June 2015. The Arab side expressed full solidarity with India in all efforts for their early release from captivity.

Global issues:
20. The sides called for an urgent reform of the United Nations Security Council through expansion in both permanent and non-permanent membership to reflect contemporary reality. They agreed that the current structure of the UN Security Council was not representative of a majority of the people of the world but continued to perpetuate a system that was anachronistic.

21. The two sides noted the pioneering role played by the Arab countries and the Republic of India in the peace-keeping field as they are one of the largest contributors with forces and partnership in the United Nation’s missions. They called for expanding the participation of the countries participating with forces and allowing them a greater role in decisions-making in the peace-keeping domain. Both sides expressed desire to expand joint cooperation in peace-keeping field including training.

22. The two sides intensify bilateral coordination, and coordination with the Arab Member State in the Security Council, with the aim of reinforcing UNSC credibility and for a balanced handling of all the causes on its agenda.

23. The two sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and rejecting associating terrorism with any religion, culture or ethnic group, emphasized the need for concerted regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and to address its causes and to develop a strategy to eliminate the sources of terrorism and extremism including its funding, as well as combating organized cross-border crime. They supported the efforts of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee [CTC] and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism [CCIT], at the earliest. They welcomed in this context the UNSCR 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014). The sides supported the activities of the International Center for Counter-Terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations, with the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They commended the work of the Africa Center for Studies and Research on Terrorism in Algeria, and welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Fighting Extremism hosted by Algeria on 22-23 July 2015. The sides welcomed the joint presidency of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Kingdom of Netherlands of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF). They welcomed the initiative launched by the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt at the High Level of the 70th Session of the UNGA titled: “Hope and Action for a New Direction” (HAND) to counter Extremism and Terrorism. The sides welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Fighting Extremism hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain in November 2014. They welcomed the outcome of the workshop on Charitable Donations and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Violent Extremism hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain in November 2015. They welcomed the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia towards forming an Islamic coalition to combat terrorism.

24. The Arab side aspires to an effective Indian role, in cooperation with Arab States, to enhance peace and security at the regional and international level.

25. The sides reaffirmed their commitment to verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and other WMDs in an irreversible manner and agreed to strengthen collaboration to achieve this important objective according to relevant UN Resolutions. In this regard, they particularly emphasized the importance of holding the postponed 2012 conference regarding the establishment of a Middle East as a zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction, which will enhance regional and international security and stability. They agreed that nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a practical step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework.

26. They welcomed the granting of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding Award to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, in recognition of his contributions and role in promoting meaningful dialogue among religions and cultures, and mutual respect between all peoples and communities, as well as building trust and understanding and renunciation of hatred. The sides welcomed the outcomes of the Cultures and Civilizations Dialogue Conference hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain in May 2014.

27. The sides welcomed the outcomes of the 4th GCC-India Business Forum hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in November 2015.

28. They reaffirmed the necessity for both sides to coordinate their positions on the issue of developing states’ debts.

Bilateral cooperation:
The two sides discussed ways and means to enhance cooperation in economic, social and cultural fields, and asserted on the following:

29. They expressed satisfaction with the progress made to date in the Executive Program of the Forum for the years 2014 and 2015, including holding: the 1st session of The Senior Officials Meeting on 7/11/2014 in New Delhi, the 2nd session of the Arab-India Cultural Festival on 20-27/11/2014 in Algeria, the 4th Session of Arab-India Partnership Conference on 26-27/11/2014 in New Delhi and the Symposium on Arab-Indian Cooperation in the field of Media on 20-24/8/2014 in New Delhi.

30. The sides stressed the importance of developing bilateral cooperation through concrete efforts in specific sectors aimed towards medium to long term sustainability of the partnership. They affirmed the commitment to implement the Executive Program of the Forum for the years 2016 and 2017, in order to push forward the cooperation in different fields, including holding: the 5th Session of Arab-India Partnership Conference in May 2016 in Oman, the 3rd session of Arab-India Cultural Festival in 2016 in India, the 2nd symposium on Arab-Indian Cooperation in the field of Media in one of Arab countries, the Arab-Indian University Presidents Conference in 2016.

31. Both sides recognized the need to hold more people-to-people interactions between the two sides particularly exchanging youth delegations to share experiences and ideas about each other’s culture and traditions. It was also agreed to promote exchange of women’s delegations with a view to promote women empowerment.

32. They emphasised continuing political consultations between the two sides to coordinate positions on regional as well as global political and economic issues in order to better articulate the views of the developing nations and to this end, to increase consultations on specific topics and issues between the respective Ministries and Departments.

33. They expressed desire to strengthen future cooperation in economic, trade and investment, within the framework of the existing mechanisms and further developing these mechanisms.

34. In view of the great importance the two sides attach to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of Energy, they expressed hope to reach a memorandum of understanding in the field of Energy in order to enhance cooperation in this field, especially in the field of renewable Energy.

35. Both the sides desire to strengthen cooperation in the fields of Science and Technology, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Environment, Agriculture and Food Security, Tourism, Health and establishing the necessary mechanisms to enforce cooperation in these fields to achieve common interest of India and Arab countries.

36. Both the sides are keen to enhance cooperation in the fields of social development, especially to end poverty, support small-size businesses and producing families, family and childhood development and rehabilitation of disabled and old people.

37. Both the sides emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation between Non Governmental Organizations, through enhancing exchanges between the two sides on several levels such as academic, scientific, cultural, art, literature, Media, training and human resources fields, in order to enhance mutual understanding between Arab and Indian people.

38. The two sides expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the Kingdom of Bahrain for hosting the 1st India-Arab Ministerial Meeting and for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to all the delegations and for the good preparations which contributed to the success of this meeting. They also welcomed holding the 2nd India-Arab Ministerial Meeting of the Forum in India. .