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Mon 4 Feb 2008 03:03 AM

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Kuwait opposed to GCC expansion

Council not an 'exclusive club', but should not expand beyond its current six states, minister says.

The GCC should not expand membership beyond its current six states, a Kuwaiti official said on Sunday.

Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Kuwait, said the alliance should not replace the Arab League, following a Bahrain-Kuwait higher committee meeting in Manama.

“In Kuwait, we believe that if we open the GCC to other countries, we will end up with 22 members joining,” UAE daily Gulf News quoted the minister as saying.

“The GCC is not an exclusive club, but the six countries share an identity and can work together to support the Arab League."

Established in 1981, the GCC groups Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The council is considering efforts by Yemen to join the alliance. The country was admitted to the GCC ministerial councils of education, health and social affairs and to the Gulf Football Cup in 2001, however its weaker economy and its status as a republic mark it out from its neighbours.

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