Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations on the sidelines of the 118th GCC Ministerial Council meeting in Abu Dhabi.
Australia was represented at the First Joint Ministerial Meeting on GCC-Australia Strategic Dialogue by Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd, and the GCC group was headed by the UAE Foreign Minsiter and chair of the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in the presence of the outgoing GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah.
The official Emirates News Agency (WAM) says “Sheikh Abdullah stressed the importance of strategic dialogue with Australia as a key country that maintains strong political and economic ties with the GCC countries”.
In a joint statement signed at the end of the meeting, the two sides said the MoU is an undertaking to further strategic dialogue between the sides.
A statement from the Australian Foreign Affairs Ministry elaborates, saying “Australia and the GCC welcomed the growth in relations and cooperation in the political, economic, education and other fields.”
“The two sides shared important and growing economic and strategic interests and people to people links, reinforced by hundreds of thousands of Australians of Arab descent who have made an important contribution to Australian society, tens of thousands of Australians living in GCC countries, and thousands of GCC nationals studying in Australia.”
The MoU details a commitment to holding annual meetings between Foreign Ministers with a focus on enhancing friendly relations; boosting trade and investment links; and to finalise discussions on a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the GCC.