The joint declaration adopted at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh made no reference to the Kashmir issue, with commentators saying this trend that started some years ago reflected greater appreciation of India’s stand on the matter.
The seven-point Riyadh Declaration adopted on Sunday, which called for greater cooperation and coordination among the six member states against the backdrop of a blockade of Qatar, only affirmed support for the Palestinian cause. The declarations adopted after the summits in the past two years too had made no mention of the Kashmir issue. People familiar with India’s engagements with the members of the GCC — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — said New Delhi had consistently said that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter and should not figure at multilateral forums.
The Modi government has stepped up its outreach to members of the GCC and external affairs minister made her first visit to Kuwait and Qatar in October, with energy security, trade and investment topping her agenda. Her visit was in line with the government’s overall objective of enhancing engagement with the Gulf region, a major supplier of oil and gas and home to millions of expatriate Indian workers. During the GCC Summit, leaders of the member states agreed on the appointment of a commander of their unified military command to complete a joint defence system.The leaders stressed the GCC’s pivotal role in maintaining security and stability in the region and combating terrorism along with partners in the international community.
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