The 1st Ministerial Meeting of Arab-India Cooperation Forum was held on 24 January 2016 in the Bahraini capital Manama.
The meeting, which was opened by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, was attended by Minister of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Sushma Swaraj, foreign ministers of Arab States, and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Nabil Elaraby.
The meeting reviewed the achievements of the Arab-Indian cooperation since the establishment of the Arab-Indian Co-operation Forum in New Delhi in 2008 and adopted the Manama Declaration.
The declaration called for enhanced cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues including terrorism, Palestine, Syria, Arab-Israeli conflict and reforms in the UNSC by expanding its permanent and non-permanent membership.
Highlights of the Manama Declaration
• Arab-Israeli conflict: A comprehensive and permanent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict should be achieved on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions 242 of 1976 and 338 of 1973, Madrid Peace conference of 1991 and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut.
• Palestine issue: It called on Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian Arab territories it seized in 1967 and implementation of the two-state principle on the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestine State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
• Arab-Iran conflict: They further 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, and resolution of disputes through peaceful means.
• Israel-Lebanon conflict: It called 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.
• UAE-Iran conflict: 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.
• Terrorism: They supported the efforts of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee [CTC] and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism [CCIT], at the earliest.
• Syria: Both sides affirmed the need for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria in accordance with the Vienna Statements of October and November 2015 issued by the International Syrian Support Group and the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015).
• Iraq: It strongly condemned crimes committed by all terrorist organizations, especially those committed by ISIS terrorist organization against all Iraqi people.
• Libya: The leaders 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.
• Yemen: The leaders supported the legitimate Government in Yemen represented by the President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and condemned the unilateral procedures by the Houthi group as it undermines the transitional political process in Yemen.
• Sudan: 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 Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, the President of Sudan.
• 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.
• They welcomed the granting of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding Award to Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the king of Bahrain, in recognition of his contributions in promoting meaningful dialogue in the region.
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When: 24 January 2016