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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden formed a new group on Monday, in an effort to support co-operation and economic integration in the region.
The Council of Arab and African States bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and the signing of the Council's Charter is the culmination of a plan put together by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia, Egypt and Yemen met in Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss opportunities to work together and strategies for securing the two waterways from piracy, smuggling and regional threats.
The meeting also dealth with political and investment interests and confronting foreign interference in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Their first meeting, and agreement to form the seven-member council, occured in December 2018.
The meeting came as tensions in the region escalated, raising fears Iran may act out in ways which would affect the critical shipping route between the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.
"We are very keen that the situation in the region doesn't escalate any further," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah told reporters following the meeting.
"It's certainly a very dangerous moment and we have to be conscious of the risks and dangers not just to the region but to wider global security."
"We hope that all actors take all the steps necessary to prevent any further escalation and any provocation," he added.
Last year saw repeated attacks against vessels crossing the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden.
Last October, Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed state media reports that an Iranian tanker was hit by missiles in the Red Sea, causing an oil spill. The Sabiti, a tanker capable of carrying 1 million barrels of crude, was damaged near the Saudi port of Jeddah after being hit by suspected missiles, but the state tanker company withdrew its claim that the attack was launched from Saudi Arabia.
In September, the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, said it had intercepted and destroyed an explosives-laden boat launched from Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthi group.
The security of the world’s waterways is an increasing point of concern for the international community. Also last year, the US created the International Maritime Security Construct to secure shipping through the Strait of Hormuz. The construct was joined by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Australia and Bahrain.
“The kingdom’s accession to this international alliance comes in support of regional and international efforts to deter and counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade in order to ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy and contribute to maintaining international peace and security,” the Saudi Press Agency said at the time.
Updated: January 6, 2020 05:29 PM
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